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Maurice Benard Reveals What it Was Like Publishing His Memoir (EXCLUSIVE)


In Nothing General About It: How Love (And Lithium) Saved Me On And Off GENERAL HOSPITAL, mental-health advocate and daytime icon Maurice Benard (Sonny) invites readers into his family, his career and his experiences living with bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety. And, after working on the memoir for more than two years, he’s understandably thrilled that it’s finally out. “I’m so proud of the book,” he said to Soaps In Depth. “It’s just a brutally honest portrayal of my life — the good and the bad.

“And I didn’t want it to be anything else,” he hastened to add. “I didn’t want it to make me look great. I just wanted the truth.”

Benard Shriner Burton
When it came to his relationships with his soap colleagues, “I didn’t have a list, I just knew who I needed to talk about,” said Benard, here with Kin Shriner (Scotty) and Steve Burton (Jason).Jim Warren

Daytime fans will be happy to hear that Benard’s memoir spends plenty of time in the hallways of GH and ALL MY CHILDREN, where he got his soap start playing rough-around-the edges Nico Kelly. But his life story also delves into tough issues like child abuse, addiction, death, and his own struggle with bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. “What’s funny is, about halfway through doing the audiobook, it made me realize I’ve been through hell,” he admitted. “When you’re living your life, you take it for granted. When you read your life, almost like a third person looking in, you go, ‘Damn, that’s a lot!’ There were three times during taping where I literally just broke down like a baby and started bawling.”

While the memoir goes to some dark places, its overriding theme is one of survival, love, and redemption — and Benard thanks his co-writer for that. “Sue Black, who was my partner in this, she knows how to write,” he raved. “We were already friends, so we just sat together for a year and a half. She’d have a tape recorder, and I’d tell her all my stories because I wanted to have my voice in there. And I talked a lot, man!”

Maurice Benard Parents
“I don’t sugarcoat anything,” in the book, said the actor, here with his folks. “But in the end, my father becomes a hero. And there’s a part about my mother that is just beautiful.”Jim Warren

When Benard started receiving Black’s early chapters, “I couldn’t put it down – and it was my book!” he recalled. “It was because of the way she put it all together and told the story. She’s an incredible screenwriter, so it just moves. It’s like reading a movie!”

It also captures the nuances of Benard’s mental illness. “Let’s just say it like it is: I once threatened to kill my wife, Paula,” he admitted. “That’s exactly what happened. But if that story wasn’t told right, that could be bad. The way it plays out, I hope the reader understands, in that moment, I wasn’t me. That was the illness.”

With Benard, his parents, Paula and his GH colleagues just a few of the heroes of his story, the actor reveals he’s finally found a sense of peace in life. “The last year and a half, there’s been a change inside of me,” he shared. “My whole life, I’ve had an ugly feeling in my gut that I accepted. I just thought everybody had it. Then I got diagnosed with bipolar and figured that’s why I had it. But it would come and go. Well, it’s gone. I feel like a million bucks!”

Maurice Benard Paula
“I have talked about Paula’s family and how we met forever,” said Benard, whose wife has faced her own hurdles along with his. “I would like the second book to be her perspective.”Jim Warren

Naturally, the COVID-19 pandemic that’s gripped the world has challenged Benard’s newfound sense of well-being. “It has given me a bit of anxiety, yes,” he conceded. “But thank God, I know how to deal with it, because I have Paula, and after 30 years, I have some skills to get me through this. And I’m still excited about the book being released!”

Not only is he hoping his memoir will help others who struggle with mental health, but he’s also been talking regularly to fans via social media during this stressful time. Some of his posts are about letting loose and having a laugh, but as always, Benard is also sharing his experiences. Being an advocate for mental health is his most important job — and it’s one that’s growing. For more on that, don’t miss the second half of this in-depth interview coming soon!

This story originally appeared in our print magazine

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