Over the past few weeks on GENERAL HOSPITAL, viewers have watched as Sonny stopped taking the medication that keeps his bipolar disorder in control. As a result, the dimpled don is currently in the midst of a manic phase — drinking, picking fights, barely sleeping, and fixated on creating the perfect treehouse for daughters Avery and Donna. Thankfully, Nina figured out that he’s no longer taking his medication, and brought Sonny to the hospital for a meeting with his doctor. However, as GH viewers saw, Sonny left the room before his doctor came to examine him, so it’s anybody’s guess whether he’ll get the help he needs… or continue to spiral out of control, endangering himself or someone he loves.
The GH storyline is a deeply personal one for Sonny’s portrayer, Maurice Benard, who has bipolar disorder himself. A fierce advocate for mental health awareness, the Emmy winner uses his social media accounts and his State of Mind YouTube series as a platform to promote open conversations about bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. As the Twitterverse began commenting on the highly emotional scenes between Sonny and Nina, Benard retweeted several comments, responding to some of his followers with words of thanks or encouragement.
“This is exactly how a manic episode feels,” tweeted Valentina Ragone. “I went through my first and only one five years ago. Saturday marks five years since my hospitalization. I’m so thankful for Maurice for being open about his bipolar, doing this bipolar storyline, and doing State of Mind.” Replying to Ragone, Benard noted how important talking about mental health is. “It has to start with a conversation so everyone can be aware of how serious it is,” he wrote, “but there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”
ChicMystique37, who also has bipolar disorder, also thanked Benard for bringing the mental illness to light in the soap’s storyline. “It truly is a struggle, but I have a wonderful support system that helps me see through my hazy, chaotic episodes,” she wrote. “Keep up the great work!”
Another follower, Jason Babb, praised Benard’s performance in this storyline while recalling how he’d witnessed his own father break down. “He had a temporary bipolar episode,” Babb tweeted. “It eventually went away, but watching you literally brings me to tears as he was acting exactly the same way. He eventually passed from non-related dementia, but he was back to himself… thankfully.”
GH viewer LD was in awe of how vulnerable Benard was in his portrayal of Sonny’s manic state and wondered if the scenes were “triggering” for the actor in relation to his real-life struggle with bipolar disorder. Replying to LD, the Emmy winner confessed that it “used to affect me a lot more” but that he’s “learned not to bring it home.”
Stay tuned to GH to see what happens next for Sonny!
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