General Hospital star, Maurice Benard will appear on The Dr. Oz Show on Thursday, February 25, to speak about his personal struggle with mental illness. Maurice will talk about his mental breakdown, and how it almost cost him his acting career almost 25 years ago. Ever since, he has become an advocate for bipolar disorder and has actively been part of several storylines revolving around awareness of bipolar disorder on General Hospital.
Maurice will tell Dr. Oz that he has suffered three nervous breakdowns since being diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 21-years-old. Benard describes the breakdowns as a “having a nightmare that you cannot wake up.” He also explained that it feels as if God and the Devil are fighting to see which one will win the fight over his soul. Benard stated that when he would suffer a breakdown that he’d feel like he was possessed and didn’t have control over his words or actions — even though, he threatened and (nearly) harmed those he cared most about — including his wife, Paula. Maurice stated that he would often lash out at Paula for recommending he get treatment for bipolar disorder.
She Knows Soaps revealed that Maurice’s mother grew concerned with his behavior at the age of 21 when he (falsely) believed that he could read Phil Donahue’s mind as he watched his talk show on television. Just after that, Benard told his father that he was the devil and became so violent towards his parents that his mother was forced to get law enforcement involved. It prompted his mother to take action and have him committed to the county’s mental institution.
On one of his (many) hospital stays, Maurice ripped a latch off the seclusion room and considered killing himself. He almost slit his wrist. However, he decided to use the latch to make something more useful to him, a cross pendant. During one of his mental institution visits, he escaped the facility — which caused his parents much stress until he was located.
Maurice Benard plays the character of Sonny Corthinos on GeneralHospital. Corthinos suffers from bipolar disorder, although, it is being controlled at the moment. His on-screen son, Morgan Corthinos (Bryan Craig) was recently diagnosed with bipolar as well, and he and his on-screen wife Carly (Laura Wright) have been busy trying to get their son the help he needs.
Before General Hospital wrote Sonny to have bipolar disorder, Benard considered resigning from the ABC soap opera. Apparently, he was behaving like his alter ego both on the set and at home, and it was concerning to his family and friends. He spoke to TPTB at ABC, and they didn’t want him to quit — instead, they gave him time to seek treatment and decided to “give” Sonny bipolar disorder, according to ABC.
After Benard appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2004, Maurice wrote an article about his struggle with bipolar disorder. He received a letter from a young boy who was inspired by Maurice’s story of recovery, and his article helped him cope with a family tragedy. The boy explained that his brother committed suicide because he didn’t know how to deal with his emotions. Benard revealed that was the moment that he knew he had to continue to bring awareness to this silent killer.
Maurice Benard has been with his wife Paula for over 26 years, and it has been over 25 years since his last nervous breakdown. He is hopeful that with medication and treatment, he can ward off any future breakdowns. Benard will also reveal his biggest fear, and how that feat complicates his life as a busy actor. You won’t want to miss this (extra) special The Dr. Oz Show.
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