As the host of the YouTube series State of Mind, GENERAL HOSPITAL star Maurice Benard (Sonny) is a pro at getting his guests to open up about their struggles with anxiety, depression, addiction, trauma, anger, and other mental health issues. However, viewers who tuned in for the installment that dropped on July 23 noticed something different about that particular episode: There was no guest. Rather, Benard spent that episode of State of Mind talking directly to the camera as he discussed the crippling anxiety he felt during the height of the pandemic, and how the lessons he learned then helped him more recently when he had another panic attack just a few weeks ago.
Casually dressed in a white shirt, the GH star welcomed viewers into his family home as he spoke openly about his personal experiences with the downward spiral of depression and anxiety, and what he’s found helps him cope with the monster and come out on the other side. “This week, I went through pretty bad anxiety, panic attacks,” the Emmy winner confessed, adding that he watched videos of New Age spiritual teachers Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra daily on YouTube to help him process what he was going through. “I’ve got to tell you, it really got me through it. In my mind, I thought, ‘This is going to last forever.’ Because it was tough.”
One trick that Benard has added to his arsenal of coping mechanisms is facing negativity head-on. “A lot of times when you have that kind of anxiety, you have to sit in it and not run away,” he explained. “Stay in that uncomfortable feeling and it will become comfortable. I know it’s really difficult, but you have to accept what you’re feeling and not try to run or deny it. Live in it. You’ve got to be a champion.”
During his honest confessional, Benard shared that he’d often head out to a gazebo on his expansive property that sits next to a pond. “I noticed that when I was in this anxiety, I couldn’t hear the water. And when I got better, the water was loud. And that’s the difference.”
Being around nature — as well as his adorable granddaughter, TT, who made an appearance in the video — are helpful distractions when he’s in a state of depression or anxiety, Benard said. “When you’re going through anxiety or depression, you have to stop thinking about the terror. And it’s very difficult to do,” he acknowledged. “Because all your mind does is go to the worst. So, I came out here, and nature fills me up.”
Other solutions that Benard finds helpful are meditation, yoga, working out, and hypnosis, and he drew upon all of those tools when he experienced another panic attack several weeks ago. “I did what I needed to do, and I got through it. Really fast. And it was amazing,” he proudly stated, comparing his panic attacks to Nightmare on Elm Street villain Freddy Krueger. “The thing about getting through this stuff, it’s like a badge of honor that you have. I fought Freddy Krueger like 6 times. And I won. And now I’m more confident that if it happens again, I’m going to get through it.”
You can watch Benard’s very personal video on his State of Mind YouTube channel.
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