Many of us might not recall his name right away, but most of us should absolutely remember his sweet, angelic face that graced our screens week after week. And we can assure you that Frankie Muniz, the sweet, angelic face in question, remains as charming as ever as an adult.
But as is the case with many other child actors of his time like Macaulay Culkin, he hasn’t had the easiest life since growing out of beloved family-oriented works. And one particular struggle in Muniz’s life took away something that most of us can’t imagine going without: our memories.
The actor first broke out as the titular lead character in the television show Malcolm In The Middle. He may only have been fourteen at the time of the show’s premiere, but he absolutely stole the show with his boy-wonder persona.
Thus began a delightfully momentous career for Frankie, in which he basically became a regular in so many of our favorite teen shows and movies. You name it: Lizzie McGuire, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Dr. Dolittle 2 and the Agent Body Banks franchise. He was everywhere and we loved him all the more for it.
And unlike many other teen actors, he never got embroiled in an alcohol or drug-related controversy, he never had to answer questions about ‘bad reputation’ — he kept striding along on the good path and kept following his passions, whether that was acting, music or car racing.
Yet even when you do everything right, life doesn’t stop throwing curveballs at you.
His health problems caught up to him
During his 2017 stint on the reality show Dancing With The Stars, Frankie revealed to the world that he was suffering from extensive memory loss. He had had his first concussion at age 7 during a soccer game, his second one during a basketball game, and the next two during football games. By his thirties, he had suffered from 9 concussions in total.
As if that isn’t already horrific enough, he also shared that he had suffered from at least 15 transient ischemic attacks since 2012. These attacks can also be described as ‘mini-strokes’ that lead to blockages within the brain.
The first attack, which occurred during a motorcycle ride, caused him to lose his peripheral vision, and when he came back home, he could barely recognize his girlfriend or mom.
These attacks also took away large chunks of Frankie’s memories, particularly of his youth; he couldn’t remember being on Malcolm in The Middle or going to the Emmys’ or any of the awesome things that happened to him during those years.
We can only imagine the dread and helplessness Frankie was overcome with during those attacks, at not being able to understand what’s going on around you, at not being able to recognize your loved ones, at not being able to recall the best moments in your life.
As human beings, we have a habit of using our positive memories as mood boosters; once we can recall those amazing memories, we are able to bring that same energy into the present day and fend off those feelings of negativity. Living in the past can be a drug, and we’re all guilty of relying on it, from time to time.
I consider myself to be in an amazing place. So it’s weird when people are like, ‘oh I’m sorry you are going through this but in my head, I’m like, ‘I’m living pretty good.’Frankie Muniz to Entertainment Weekly
But Frankie is not looking for sympathy. He takes his condition for what it is and does not intend to sulk around about it. It doesn’t stop him from doing what he wants to do or being where he wants to be. He’s fully aware that he’s had a wonderful career and he is still continuing to fulfill his dreams.
He rebuilt his life with the help of love
His memories may have come and gone but his longtime girlfriend, now-wife Paige Price never left his side. Frankie and Paige finally tied the knot this year, and it’s really been long coming, seeing how she’s been the one constant in his life through all the ups and downs.
Frankie proposed to Paige in 2018, and every time he talks about her, he just sounds more and more in love. He told People that the couple doesn’t spend a minute apart and that he doesn’t ever get bored of her. He also revealed that she was a major factor in helping him cope through memory losses.
Every now and then, he would get sad about losing his memory but Paige would help him through those tough moments by being his rock. She writes everything down in journals, which includes all the moments, all the emotions, all the little things Frankie may have a hard time remembering. So all he needs to do is skim through the journal, and he is able to recall a lot of information that his mind may have otherwise neglected.
I just want to keep moving forward so I don’t really dwell too much on the past.Frankie Muniz to People Magazine
There are no barriers to achieving true happiness
Frankie and Paige’s pristine relationship shows us that there are no real barriers to getting our happily-ever-afters. Things might be imperfect and there might be a lot of mental challenges we have to work through first, but as long as we carry an optimistic attitude about those struggles, we will find ourselves grateful for what we have.
Having a solid support system around us is also crucial to being able to cultivate such a positive attitude. There is a reason why Frankie is so casual and honest about his health struggles; he does not see them as obstacles to fulfilling his passions. He continues living life to the fullest and has no regrets about anything. Such is the unbreakable spirit of human endeavor that keeps the world spinning.
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