General Hospital's Maurice Benard's loving wife helped him through mental health battle

Darcy Rafter August 11, 2022
General Hospital's Maurice Benard's loving wife helped him through mental health battle
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General Hospital’s Maurice Benard’s loving wife has stuck by his side throughout his mental health journey. Let’s take a look at their long-lasting relationship as the couple celebrate their wedding anniversary.  

Benard who plays Sonny Corinthos on General Hospital has been a part of the cast since 1993. Maurice and his wife Paula got married three years before he walked on canvas, and they tied the knot on August 11, 1990.

Together they have four children; Heather Ann, Caley Sofia, Cassidy Rose and Joshua James. On their 32nd wedding anniversary, let’s take a look at how they have stuck by each other through thick and thin.

Maurice Benard opened up over struggle with mental health

Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage

When Maurice Benard landed his first soap role in 1987, as Nico Kelly on All My Children, he was already struggling quite severely with his mental health. He had already had two mental breakdowns and was keeping his bipolar disorder, a secret from friends and family.

Benard told People in an interview that he kept his mental health under wraps and “didn’t talk about it because an acting coach told me that if I said I was bipolar or mentally ill, I wouldn’t get cast.”

He would also suffer manic episodes and his parents eventually intervened. After a violent episode when he was 21, his parents called the police and had him admitted to a mental health ward.

After finally being diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 22, Benard was prescribed lithium to even out the chemical imbalance in his brain. On his podcast, Maurice has revealed he has been on the drug for 27 years straight and it has inevitably changed his life.

In 2000, he went public with his mental illness and began work with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Benard now has a successful mental health-centric YouTube series, State Of Mind. As a mental health awareness advocate, he posts weekly talks about his own mental health both on Instagram and on his podcast episodes.

Maurice Benard’s loving wife helped him through mental health battle

In 1993 Benard was in his first week on the set of General Hospital when he suffered his third breakdown. On his second week on set, he began hearing voices.

Benard recalls he then became completely delusional but because he is a method actor, “the people at work thought I was just really into the role”. However, he painfully recounts that “at home, I began behaving like my character — mean, tough and lethal.”

Benard wrote in his book Nothing General About It, about how the events of his episode unfolded. Sonny’s portrayer explained that one night he was “twitching and crying” as he told Paula about his experiences at strip clubs and with other women.

Benard explains that he “grabbed a bottle of wine and drank the entire contents before throwing it at her. I held her toy poodle over my head and said I would kill him. At one point I threatened to kill Paula.”

Even as Benard “raged and hovered over her” the actor recalls his loving wife “stayed, trying to talk me down”. As soon as Maurice had fallen asleep Paula decided it was time to get him help. She reached out to a psychiatrist called Dr Noonan. Paula went to pick up a tranquillizer for him and he went back on to medication after taking a brief break.

General Hospital’s Maurice Benard’s relationship explored

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Benard and Paula have now become grandparents after their daughter Cailey gave birth to a daughter of her own. Benard often shares snaps of his granddaughter on Instagram and she is absolutely adorable.

The couple also adopted Paula’s sister Heather Ann Smith Benard in 2008, after Paula and Heather’s mother passed away. Heather also now has a daughter, named Eloise.

If you are affected by any issues raised in the article or would like someone to speak to, please call the Samaritans for free on 116 123. You can also email them at [email protected] or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch in the UK. In the US, please visit Samaritans USA for more information.

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Darcy is an experienced journalist passionate about celebrity culture and entertainment. After gaining a degree in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths University she has also become a social media specialist, always keeping informed on the latest trends. With almost five years of experience in media, her expertise is analysing platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. When she's not tracking the latest trending content, she’s watching films and eating lots of chocolate.