General Hospital’s Michael E. Knight Opens Up About His Mental-Health Struggle: ‘I Didn’t Have the Energy to Stand Up in the Shower’
As bad as it got, “I want to say to people, it’s doable.”
We think of Michael E. Knight as the charismatic actor who can make a scene more interesting simply by walking into it. We think of the light that radiates from him almost in bursts and the smile that says, “Mischief’s afoot.” But things haven’t always been as sunny as they may have appeared for the Daytime Emmy winner.
“There were two periods in my life where the train came off the tracks,” he told General Hospital castmate Maurice Benard during the June 12 edition of State of Mind (which you can watch in full below). “My particular thing is I can suffer from and have sought care for obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder.”
Translation: As Knight explained it, “a story keeps running over and over in your mind to the point that you can’t eat, can’t sleep.”
‘You Do *Not* Have This’
Knight first went through it when he was 40, living in New York with then-wife Catherine Hickland (Lindsay, One Life to Live) and playing Tad on All My Children. On one hand, he was able to function: He could memorize his lines and do his job. On the other, he couldn’t function: Getting to the studio posed an especially big challenge. “I didn’t have the energy to stand up in the shower before going to work,” he admitted. “I used to have a panic attack for days and days.”
It got so bad that Knight dropped 20 lbs., he estimated. So one day, when Hickland walked in on him while he was taking a bath, “she just looked at me and started crying.” Though he’d kept telling himself that he had this under control, she told him no, “you do not have this. Go see somebody.”
A Visit to ‘the Gift Shop of Hell’
When again Knight was struck at the height of COVID, he called Benard, who didn’t try to diminish or shrug off his experience. Rather, Sonny’s portrayer asked, “‘Does food taste like metal?’” recalled Knight, who plays Martin on the ABC soap. “Only somebody who’s been there in the gift shop of hell knows that” a deterioration in one’s mental health can impact one’s nervous system.
“You didn’t try to talk me out of it,” Knight reminded Benard, with whom he also worked on All My Children (back when they were Tad and Nico, respectively). “You told me about the signposts” that gave hope that the end of the tunnel was approaching.
More: Laura Wright‘s tribute to ‘magical’ co-star
‘We’re Living Through Biblical [Bleep]’
Given the state of the world, Knight mused that experiencing mental-health issues may be increasingly common. How could it not be? “We’re living through Biblical [bleep] nonstop,” he noted. And even if we weren’t, “life is a long road — for everybody — and I think at some point, most people are going to hit a psychological hiccup.”
The good news? “Once you’ve taken that detour, you’re aware that it’s out there,” he said. Now he may still take for granted a good day, but when he has a bad one, he knows that it could be worse. And having gone through what he has, he hoped anyone watching would take away this, if nothing else: “I want to say to people, it’s doable.”
Return to All My Children with the below photo gallery full of highlights of the much-missed soap’s entire ABC run.
Video: YouTube/State of Mind