Normally, I jump right into the review when I write book reviews. However, I feel compelled to share a bit more first this time. If you want to jump right to the review, it starts after the BINGO card.
When I was younger, I spent the summer with my grandmother. She loved her stories, which is what she called soap operas. Her favorites were Young & the Restless and Bold and the Beautiful. My favorite is General Hospital (GH). I love the GH cast and have lots of favorite actors and actresses. One who stood out was Maurice Benard, who plays Michael “Sonny” Corinthos, Jr., the bad boy mobster we all root for when we know some of his actions are wrong. What’s not to love? Sonny fiercely protects his family. He can make delicious spaghetti sauce and has charm in spades driven by his dimples.
Even now, I still watch GH when I can, even if all I have time for are the five-minute snippets posted on the GH Facebook page. Some people get obsessed with the soap actors and even get mad at them because of what their characters are doing, as if the actors wrote the script. I follow some actors online, including Benard, and one day during the pandemic, I came across an Instagram video of him with his goat Buddy. Benard was outside with his goat and giving an honest account of how he was doing. His Instagram videos morphed into his YouTube show State of Mind with Maurice Bernard.
Once I realized Benard had a show on YouTube centering on mental health, I knew I had to watch it. Because I need order in my life, I started at the beginning to watch in chronological order. I’m proud to say I have finally made it to the 2022 episodes. The most recent episode I completed was the episode with Joyce Guy, his fellow GH costar. That episode aired in February. I hope to get caught up so I can watch it when it happens. Even though I still have episodes I need to watch, I think I have watched enough to make a BINGO card. For those unfamiliar, some students make these based on common occurrences in a class. I find these endearing because it shows how much students pay attention to the instructor. Some occurrences I included below happen frequently, and some happen less frequently. So, if you are inclined, use it while watching the show … and I highly recommend Benard’s show.
|Paula is complimented or praised||Guest recommends a book||Maurice interviews a former or current GH castmate & mentions not initially liking the person||Maurice mentions how much he is into the guest’s backstory||Viewers are reminded the topic was covered in the book Nothing General About It|
|Guest is a former or current GH actor or actress||The book Nothing General About It is seen in the background||Viewers are encouraged not to give up||Maurice is distracted by the subscribe button||Guest gets emotional|
|Maurice gets emotional||Therapy is suggested as a mental health option that works||Free Space/Maurice shows his dimples||Guest mentions reading Nothing General About It||Guest gets emotional & mentions not planning to get emotional|
|Maurice shares insight about his stay at a mental health facility||Joshua sings or plays an instrument||GH behind-the-scenes gem is shared||Viewers are reminded to stay in 1st & 2nd gear & to avoid 4th & 5th gear||Maurice mentions an affirmation Paula told him|
|Guest returns for another appearance||Maurice talks about his experiences with airplanes||Guest is from a soap opera that’s not GH||Maurice talks about one or more of his four kids||Maurice mentions one of his pets|
However, I know you came here for a book review, so let’s get to it. My sister and I are reading books together in 2022. Our first book was Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD. Our second book was We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza. Yesterday, we finished our third book Nothing General About It: How Love (and Lithium) Saved Me On and Off General Hospital by Maurice Benard with Susan Black.
After I began watching State of Mind, I really wanted to read Benard’s book. Whenever he mentioned that a topic was covered more in-depth in his book, I wanted to get the scoop. Since Benard is an actor, I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to content. Could he weave an engaging story that pulled the reader in? This might be why Susan Black, a talented writer, helped with the book. Nonetheless, it was an excellent read.
My sister won’t read any book unless it has an audiobook. I was so glad when Benard mentioned his book had an audiobook, and he was the person reading it. He shared on his show that reading his book made him a bit nervous. As I was following along in the text, I really loved the vulnerability in Benard’s voice and the times where it slightly cracked because it made you feel the emotions he had at that part of the text.
I appreciated learning the story behind why he changed his name from Mauricio Jose Morales to Maurice Benard and how he still has pride in his Latino heritage and culture despite the name change.
Most importantly, I appreciated his willingness to share the good and the ugly sides of his life to the public. I truly believe his book, show, and mental health advocacy is making an impact.
Last but not least, definitely not least, is Mrs. Paula Benard. This woman is the champ and the most valuable player. I would definitely love to read her autobiography, if she writes one, because I think it would be valuable to know what life is like for a person who is supporting and helping a person battling mental health issues. I’m sure she would have gems to share. Luckily, we get insight into some of those gems in the book.
Even if you are not a soap opera fan, even if you have never seen Benard act (you should), even if you don’t believe you have mental health struggles, I believe this book is powerful, and every person can leave with a takeaway.
Sometimes, I make a Twitter thread where I share one important quote from each chapter of a book. I’m intentional about not giving out huge spoilers. I will do one for this book, but I have also listed those quotes below. Go to Twitter to read my insights about the quotes and why they resonated with me, and buy Nothing General About It.
Prologue – “My enemy was worse because there was no way I could escape – I physically could not get out of harm’s way because my enemy was me.”
Ch 1 – “He had strict rules and set a high bar … That’s how I learned early on that everything had to be perfect.”
Ch 2 – “Despite all the affirmation and signs of success, I had trouble believing it could last.”
Ch 3 – “I was totally faking it, I was acting. Inside, I was terrified, coming unglued, convinced they all thought I was a loser.”
Ch 4 – “I was coming to understand that sex and alcohol weren’t making me happier, they were just changing the highs and lows I experienced.”
Ch 5 – “Paula’s philosophy was firm and simple: if you love something, set it free, and if it comes back to you, it’s yours forever, and if it doesn’t, it was never yours to begin with.”
Ch 6 – “I may have changed my name, but I’m still proud of my heritage—it’s good to have brown skin and it’s nice to see so much of it on-screen now, although there’s always room for more.”
Ch 7 – “It’s almost harder to be so close to getting the job than having no chance at all.”
Ch 8 – “But as I entered, in my manic state, wearing dirty sweats and seemingly indigent, the priest stopped me, telling me I couldn’t come into church like that.”
Ch 9 – “You always wanted everything to be perfect, but nothing’s perfect. Nothing. No matter how hard you try, something will always disappoint you, someone will always fall short.”
Ch 10 – “More work needs to be done in the community and laws need to change to help those who don’t have a support system or can’t help themselves.”
Ch 11 – “I know how hard it is to come forward … even harder culturally for Latino men. But the statistics can’t be ignored … Depression and bipolar disorder are equal opportunity diseases and account for ninety percent of all suicides.”
Ch 12 – “When I was growing up, my father always said, ‘Lo que pasara pasara,’ which means, ‘What will happen will happen.’”
Ch 13 – “You can’t stop doing what you’re doing or you get into a hole … You have to keep telling yourself that day by day it will get easier.”
Ch 14 – “Follow your instincts. Every therapist isn’t meant for you but if you’re in trouble, reach out, talk to one. If that person doesn’t fit find another one, and if you can’t talk to a therapist, talk to somebody, a loved one, a friend.”
Ch 15 – “I had found that the real purpose for me on earth is teaching young actors and sharing my story about mental health with others–and using the voice I’d discovered to erase the stigma.”
Ch 16 – “It had suddenly gotten real, and I thought, It only takes one moment and death takes you.”
Ch 17 – “I can get through those dark times because I understand I have a choice. I just have to choose to fight for my life.”
Acknowledgments – “For anyone who may be having a tough time, reach out and talk to somebody about it. It helps. Hang on to hope and hang in there–the darkness doesn’t last forever and the light will reappear.”