In 2009, Muniz had a serious accident on the race track.
“My car flipped a bunch and I crashed into a wall,” he told PEOPLE last month. “In the end, I broke my back, ankle, four ribs and my hand. My thumb was dangling by the skin.”
During his recuperation, Muniz began drumming in the band Kingsfoil and found a new passion for music.
“I loved the band, I loved the guys, I loved every aspect of it,” he said. Muniz also managed the band and by 2014, he was ready for a change.
“From the time I was 8 years old, I never stopped working,” the former child star said. “In 20 years, I had maybe 30 vacation days. I realized I was exhausted. It was good in the sense that I could literally do whatever I wanted to. But bad in the sense that I don’t know how to operate when I don’t have to be somewhere.”
Muniz was also living with a puzzling condition. In 2012, he suffered his first mini-stroke, or transient ischemic attack, during which blood supply to the brain is temporarily cut off. (Unlike a stroke, there are no lasting effects). Since then, Muniz estimates he has had 15 mini-strokes, varying in frequency and length.
“First, I lose my peripheral vision,” explained Muniz of the attacks. “And I can see people but I can’t recognize them. I can see words but I can’t tell what they say. Then I start going numb. It’s a gross feeling. But I know now when it’s going to come. I usually go lay down and wait [for it to be over].”
“I’ve gone to so many neurologists who have done every single test,” he said. “I have no answers as to why it happens. I got so tired of trying to find an answer that I don’t think I’ll search for an answer anymore. I’ve accepted it.”
PEOPLE’s special issue 25 Seasons of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ is on stands now.
The actor —who is excited about a return to Hollywood and happily dating his girlfriend of a year and a half, Paige Price — believes staying positive is more important than dwelling on the past.
“I’m a little more easygoing now,” Muniz said. “I’m in a good place. I smile more.”
He dances more, too.
“Everything I’ve done up until this point is exactly what I’ve wanted to do and I’m happy,” he says. “Even doing Dancing with the Stars. It’s perfect! And I love it.”
After performing his quickstep with pro partner Witney Carson on Monday’s episode, the actor was awarded a 24/30 by judges. “You really are a a good dancer, my darling,” said judge Bruno Tonioli.
“You didn’t do as well last week … but you’re back in the ballroom,” added Carrie Ann Inaba.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.