General Hospital’s Maurice Benard and His Daughter Compare Notes on an Unusually Fraught Period in Their Relationship: ‘When We Would Have Dinner, I Didn’t Want to Be There’
“It was the worst anxiety of my life,” the actor told his daughter. “I literally didn’t want to be on this earth anymore.”
It’s been almost two years since the pandemic began, and in that time, our collective mental health has eroded, relationships have frayed, and life has at times seemed overwhelming. General Hospital‘s Maurice Benard (Sonny) has been open and honest about how much he struggled with his anxiety during the darkest days of the pandemic, using his vlog State of Mind as a vehicle to bring these issues to light and hopefully help others struggling.
When the actor recently sat down with daughter Heather for an episode of State of Mind, the two got honest about those times and what they meant for each other and for the family. When the Emmy winner asked his daughter what she remembered of his pandemic struggles, she was candid.
“You were giving off weird energy,” she admitted. “But I was pregnant in a pandemic, so I had my own stuff going on, too. So, you’re weird, and then you were kind of keeping your distance.”
Weird in what way, Benard asked. Heather clarified that there was that definite distance to him. And things were bothering him that never used to before.
“You have a Zen about you and a sense of humor about you that wasn’t there,” she noted. But, as she was getting ready to bring a new life into a world that was falling about all around them, “I was going through my own thing. It was almost like you’re keeping your distance so it’s one less relationship for me to keep up on. That’s kind of a weird way to look at it.”
No, Benard assured her, it wasn’t all that weird a way to view it. He didn’t hesitate to let her know that he got it.
Credit: Image: State of Mind screenshot
“Do you understand that when we would have dinner, I didn’t want to be there?” he asked shortly thereafter. “I did not sleep for four months, and you guys would come over, and I would dread every time anybody would come over, I’ve got to be honest with you. Because I didn’t want to come out of my cocoon. When you’re in that state, you think everybody’s seeing you in a way. But obviously, you guys love me, so you don’t judge it. But you see it!”
With that said, the two can laugh about a few things now, like Benard’s tendency to try his darnedest to get out of game nights. When the actor’s wife, Paula, would break out the games, “You’d be gone so quick!” Heather laughed.
“I would try!” Benard agreed. Inevitably, Paula would convince him to join in for the kids’ sake, but he added, “Let me tell you, I got PTSD from those games. I’m never playing those games again.”
All he wanted to do was get back to his room where he would… well, not sleep. As tired as he was, he just couldn’t doze off. But at least in his room, he could get back to the safety of his cocoon.
The two turned reflective again as Heather quietly asked her dad if he looked back on that time and regretted not being able to get out of his head and be more present. “There’s two answers to that question,” Benard replied. “I don’t regret it, because there’s nothing I could have done about it, the way I was feeling. But what I do feel bad about was that I had anxiety during the pandemic and could have had the greatest time of my life.”
When all is said and done, though, Sonny’s portrayer had something very, very significant to impart to his audience. “I always have to say this because it’s important,” he noted. “Doesn’t matter how bad the anxiety is or how bad the manic episode is or depression; when we’re in it, we think it’s the end of the world. But it’s not. You get through it, and you’re better! A better person!
“Because now you’ve gotten through something hard,” he continued. “It’s like a boxing match. You’re in there, and you get hit, hit, hit, hit, hit. And then you end the fight, and you’re like, ‘I got through it, man! I feel great!’”
“Right,” Heather agreed. “I’m standing!”
And they are. They’re through the tough times, and the two of them, father and daughter, are still standing. Plus, their bond couldn’t be stronger, as we got to see just moments later when we met Heather’s daughter and Benard’s granddaughter, Eloise. Check out the adorable tot below.
Before you head out, why not get your fill of daytime stars and their real-life kids? We’ve got a gallery full of them, including an amazing shoot of Benard with all of his children!
Video: YouTube/State of Mind