General Hospital star Maurice Benard is getting candid about his bipolar disorder. He admits that the quarantine has been hard on him. The actor suffered from panic attacks two weeks into the coronavirus pandemic.
The soap actor is giving a new face to mental health. He looks tough and suave on the ABC soap. While Maurice is still as tough as ever, he struggles with his mental health. He lovingly calls himself the “poster child for mental illness” ever since he went public with his bipolar disorder in 2000. Maurice also shared his journey in his new memoir. In a new interview, he describes one of his darkest moments ever as “two weeks of torture” during the beginning of quarantine.
General Hospital star Maurice Benard gets real on mental health
In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Maurice Benard shared the details on one of his most debilitating anxiety episodes. It occurred during the beginning stages of quarantine. It’s clear that mental health has been difficult for everyone amid the coronavirus pandemic. Benard made it clear that he’s no exception.
“I had two panic attacks that got me,” the soap star revealed. “I was able to deal with it – accept it, move through it – but it’s two weeks of torture.”
The two-time Emmy winner has been through a lot of mental health struggles. Bernard’s issues started when he was a little boy when he would have the most intense nightmares. Those nightmares would soon lead to anxiety, hallucinations, hearing voices, manic outbursts, and suicidal tendencies. Bernard suffered a mental breakdown at the age of 22, in which he escaped the hospital that he switched another patient for.
His life is just as dramatic as mobster Sonny Corinthos’s life on General Hospital. But Bernard is relieved to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He takes lithium to balance out those highs and lows. He also stepped up his healthy routine amid the coronavirus pandemic. Bernard relies on a combination of exercise, a healthy diet, medicine, meditation, and visualization and therapy animals. But it’s been hard since the pandemic interrupted his regular routine.
“I hadn’t been meditating in a long time, so I started meditating again,” Bernard said, crediting the Calm app. “I go to my goats and alpacas outside and I do breathing exercises.”
He also boxes, runs, and lift weights — all at home. For those who are also struggling, Bernard advises them to stick to their routine as much as possible. Being in bed is not an option because that’s when the depression hits. Bernard feels much better when he gets out of bed and sticks to his daily routine.
Reveals the details behind his new book
On the April 20 episode of The Talk, the actor also shared the details of his new book, Nothing General About It: How Love (and Lithium) Saved Me On and Off General Hospital. Being so public about his mental health struggles is what led him to writing his new memoir. Writing is therapeutic and something that’s a part of him. Bernard also noticed that writing has helped some of his fans with their own struggles.
“A kid wrote to me, because I had written something in this magazine, and said by reading what I wrote, it helped him deal with his brother’s suicide,” Bernard recalls. “After that, I said: ‘OK. Well, I’m gonna talk about this.’ And I’ve been talking about it — I’ve been yelling it, shouting it — for 20 years.”
Unlike most celebrity memoirs, Bernard doesn’t want to make the readers like him. Instead, he wanted to put his flaws out there. He admitted that he cheated on his wife, Paula, and threatened her life before they got married. Bernard fell in love with a stripper prior to their marriage. These events happened when his mental health was unstable.
Bernard admits revisiting those moments “wasn’t so hard” since “I’m an open book.” As for his wife, who’s also his manager, she has put that time in their relationship behind them. Bernard credits her for helping him work on his book.
Maurice Bernard’s book is out now. The actor also hosts weekly chats about mental health on his Instagram. General Hospital airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for details.
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