Today I want to tell you about this guy. He’s an award-winning actor who’s also a mental health advocate. And as much as your work helped me breakthrough the ceiling of publication, it was his as both and an actor and as someone willing to share his personal journey of struggle and healing that salvaged my dream, and honestly saved my life.
You see, I don’t know Maurice either. We are not friends. We are not acquaintances. But we share one very common trait. We both live with a bipolar diagnosis. We both have experienced it’s darker grip of and we have both come out on the other side of it because we had loving and supportive and brave people around us who, in retrospect might have been better off in their own lives at the time turn tailing and running away from us, but to our great fortune, did not.
Maurice is a Daytime Emmy Award winner for best Lead Actor for the role of Sonny Corinthos on General Hospital. He has also been the recipient of the PRISM Award for his work portraying a character with bipolar disorder. He has suffered probably in ways that even I can’t fathom. But during a time when I was perched so precariously on the edge of sanity and madness myself in October of 1999 it was his story of vulnerability and strength that gave me the sense that I was not alone.
Maurice walked, stumbled, walked some more, stumbled some more in his journey of treatment and journey to healing. And what I’ve learned along the way by watching him is that to hide your illness in shame is to only exacerbate the condition. Maurice is the model that creative artists should strive to be like.
It took him a few times to get the gist of it but with his steadfast wife Paula beside him, and a great and supportive environment to work I’ve had the great pleasure to watch him flourish and know how to run my career.
He shares his story whenever he gets the chance. He listens to those whose life he has changed for the better with his advocacy. And of the younger actors on set, when he sees something special in them he seeks them out, and gives them advice, even mentoring them. The times I’ve met him whether it be as someone giving him a script or approaching his people about being the narrator of my books in audio format, he’s been nothing but a gentleman, and when I was at my lowest, shattered and steal healing from second breakdown at a fan event I probably should’ve stayed home from he gave me his full attention even though I was in a room full of people vying for his very much in demand attention.
I am a million miles away from that person in some ways. What do I mean at my lowest point that he was ‘there’ for me and countless others without even realizing the kind of impact he was having?
When I was in San Antonio so disconnected and broken and lost without my own voice he was up for a Soap Opera Digest Award. I think for either Favorite Lead Actor or Best Lead Actor. When he won he got up on stage he said, probably in one of the most courageous acts I’ve ever seen say, ‘for anyone with bipolar disorder, if I can, you can’ or something very similar to that.
Now I know this is going to sound very corny, but I kind of had a sixth sense that he was going to say something about it or to that effect, or maybe it was more of something to the effect I needed to hear someone like him, that I admired so greatly to say it. But when he said I remember crying. Everything seemed so far beyond my reach at the time.
I had been fired from my job at Children’s World because of my bipolar status and God bless Missy was the kind of friend everyone should be so lucky to have. I used to not understand the concept of someone being the kind of rock either as a friend or a husband. And while I do have that kind of friendship now I understand what Maurice says about his super woman wife Paula.
Missy knows me. She knows my moods. When I travel the Con circuit and sit on panels and sign my books she knows I have a shelf life and that when my limitations aren’t respected it can really backfire. She doesn’t see that as a weakness and she wants me to succeed to my highest level possible. So she helps me do things most people wouldn’t. She is a successful author in her own right, but she is a brilliant human being and as I shine in her light, Maurice shines in Paula’s.
Now, if only I could find a guy to sweep me off my feet lol. But that’s another post for another day.
Maurice has travelled a rocky road in his journey, but like me there are those who are devoted to him around him that he draws his strength from. He is now in a feature film called the Ghost and the Whale.
While I’ve only seen a trailer for it, it looks like fantastic film about love, loss, and mental illness. His performance looks really good and I’m curious to see it when it comes out.
I don’t need him to be Sonny in everything he does, nor do I expect him, as a fellow artist to anchor himself permanently in GH’s bay. As an artist you want to do many things, as I want to tell many stories. I hope he finds the success that you have, because he is certainly deserving of it.