Michael J. Fox says he 'needed to suffer' after his Parkinson's diagnosis and would spend hours in his bathtub, holding his head underwater
Michael J. Fox said he felt he "needed to suffer" and would spend hours in his bathtub.
In his new documentary "Still," Fox said hiding his Parkinson's disease led to his alcoholism.
Fox kept his diagnosis a secret from the public for seven years.
Michael J. Fox opened up about the mental health struggles he faced while he was keeping his Parkinson's disease diagnosis hidden from the world in the new AppleTV+ documentary "Still."
In a particularly dark section of the film, which was directed by Davis Guggenheim, Fox described spending hours in the bathtub with his head below water because he said he wanted to "suffer" and go as "low" as he possibly could.
The "Back to the Future" actor also said he turned to alcohol to "escape" the reality of his disease and "disassociate" from his body.
"I just wanted to keep my head below water. I needed to suffer. I needed to go as low as I could go," he said, explaining why he considered the bathtub his "refuge."
Parkinson's affects neurons in the brain that produce dopamine, causing people to have symptoms like tremors, stiff limbs, and trouble walking, according to the Parkinson's Foundation. Fox said he would constantly hold objects in his hand or contort his body into odd positions to hide his symptoms on camera, which made his body ache.
In the documentary, Fox also said he'd hide bottles of alcohol around his house so his wife, fellow actor Tracy Pollan, wouldn't know how much he was drinking. He also didn't have an appetite, so he'd avoid eating dinner with his family. Fox became so angry around that time, he said he wouldn't hesitate to threaten strangers in public.
Fox said "fear" drove his alcoholism. He's now 30 years sober, which he credited in part to Pollan making him face the reality of his behavior.
But in the film, the 61-year-old actor admitted that during his first few years of sobriety, his harmful thoughts got even darker. "I could no longer escape myself," he said, describing that time in his life as "a knife fight in a closet." The knife, he said, was the truth of his Parkinson's disease that he'd been so intent on avoiding.
He used work to escape instead of drinking, but said he still had feelings of wanting to be "out of the world."
"You can't pretend at home that you don't have Parkinson's, because you're just there with it," he said. "If I'm out in the world and I'm dealing with other people and they don't know I have it, then I don't have it."
Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991 at the age of 29 and kept it a secret for about seven years before realizing that filming his hit sitcom "Spin City" had become too much for him and he needed to tell the world why. He's since become an advocate for Parkinson's disease and launched his own foundation to help fund research.
In a recent interview with "CBS Sunday Morning," Fox said that life with his symptoms is "getting tougher" and he doesn't think he'll live to see 80 years old.
"Still" is currently streaming on AppleTV+.
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