Michael J. Fox recalls his 'darkest moment': 'It was when I questioned everything'

"I felt like, 'This is as low as it gets for me,'" Fox thought after an accident at home two years ago.
/ Source: TODAY

Michael J. Fox is opening up about the devastating accident he calls his "darkest moment."

The "Back to the Future" star, who's kept an upbeat attitude over the two decades he's lived publicly with Parkinson's disease, told People magazine that breaking his arm at home two years ago shattered his joyful worldview.

Michael J. Fox opens up about the power of gratitude in his new memoir, "No Time Like the Future."Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / FilmMagic

The 59-year-old actor details the accident, which happened just months after he underwent spinal cord surgery to remove a rapidly growing tumor, in his new memoir, "No Time Like the Future."

"I was heading for paralysis if I didn't get it operated on," he told People of the noncancerous tumor on his spine.

After the successful surgery, the former "Family Ties" star endured a grueling recovery process, one that forced him to learn how to walk again. With the worst seemingly behind him, he felt empowered to spend a morning alone inside his family's New York City apartment.

That optimistic feeling was gone in an instant when Fox slipped and fell in his kitchen and broke his arm.

"That was definitely my darkest moment," he said. "I just snapped. I was leaning against the wall in my kitchen, waiting for the ambulance to come, and I felt like, 'This is as low as it gets for me.' It was when I questioned everything. Like, 'I can’t put a shiny face on this. There’s no bright side to this, no upside. This is just all regret and pain.'"

Fox and wife Tracy Pollan at the 52nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in 2000Getty Images

Fox also shared that in recent years his Parkinson's symptoms have moved beyond physical tremors, rigidity and speech difficulties.

"My short-term memory is shot," he said, adding, "I always had a real proficiency for lines and memorization. And I had some extreme situations where the last couple of jobs I did were actually really word-heavy parts. I struggled during both of them."

After breaking his arm, the actor gradually got his positive perspective back after spending long stretches in bed binge-watching old TV reruns and realizing his own reruns would "survive" him.

"Optimism is really rooted in gratitude," said Fox. "Optimism is sustainable when you keep coming back to gratitude, and what follows from that is acceptance. Accepting that this thing has happened and you accept it for what it is.

"It doesn't mean that you can't endeavor to change," he added. "It doesn't mean you have to accept it as a punishment or penance, but just put it in its proper place. Then see how much the rest of your life you have to thrive in, and then you can move on."

Fox, who says he's happiest spending time with his wife of 32 years, actor Tracy Pollan, and their four children, now feels more grateful than ever.

"It's not that I wasn't sincere before, but my gratitude is deeper now, from having gotten through the darkest times," he explained.

"So the last couple of years have been trickier than most," said Fox. "But I have things that I've been blessed with that are just incredible. Life is rich. Life is good."