This week was a special week for General Hospital’s Maurice Benard on his video podcast State Of Mind because he welcomed his dear friend and former GH co-star, Tyler Christopher, someone he affectionately calls his BB (Bipolar Brother), to sit in the chair across from him and peel back the layers of his compelling journey from addiction to redemption.
Maurice Benard And Tyler Christopher: From Hell And Back
In the introduction to the latest episode, Maurice Benard (Sonny Corinthos) paid his friend the ultimate compliment.
“He is not a good actor. He’s not a really good actor, he is truly a great actor. And I don’t know if he knows this or not, but there have only been three actors in 58 years on General Hospital that have won Lead Acting Emmys and Tyler Christopher is one of them. He’s deep. He’s intense. He’s got skills and that is just the talent part,” praised Benard. “First and foremost, he is my friend. And the fact that he is sitting in this chair is a testament to his determination, will. A lot of people love him.”
Christopher, who originated the role of Nikolas Cassadine on General Hospital, playing him on and off from 1996 to 2016, appeared humbled and open to any topic approached on the podcast.
“Take me wherever you want me to go,” he said. And go they did. The two BBs tackled his childhood, alcohol addiction, traumatic brain injury, being fired from two daytime shows, homelessness, and much more.
The Daytime Emmy Award-winning actor talked about his first taste of alcohol at age 9. “Somebody at school said if you go into your cupboard, there are these little things called extracts: vanilla, orange, lemon. Some friend, some idiot at school said, ‘There’s alcohol in that. If you drink it, you’ll get funny and silly.'” Christopher described what happened next. “So what’s the first thing that I do when I go home? I go home to the cabinet, and my mother had vanilla extract from left to right. I took every one. Exactly what my friends told me would happen, happened. ‘Ooh, that feels good. That’s funny. That’s cool.’ And that’s how it started. And it never stopped.”
The Path Of Destruction
They talked about him being a functioning alcoholic. He drank a gallon and a half daily. He mentioned vodka as his drink of choice. Christopher talked about when it began to erode his daily life and when he realized he needed help. His drinking led up to being fired from his roles on General Hospital and as Stefan DiMera on Days of our Lives.
“It crushed me,” he admitted candidly. “It literally crushed me. I took advantage of the one thing I really loved the most. It was devastating for a myriad of reasons. One, the thing that I loved the most was taken away. Two, I threw it away. Nobody took it away from me. I dropped it. Having to walk out those doors, under those circumstances, was like, ‘Wow, this is for real, dude.’ You know, I haven’t been back since. That ship has sailed. For now.”
The actor physically and mentally reached his limit. “At some point, you cannot survive it. At some point, it will kill you. And it has. Three times I have flatlined. Twice from poisoning. Once from withdrawal.” He painted a dark picture of his near-death experiences. “A lot of people don’t know this, but alcohol is one of the things you can die from withdrawals. Not a lot of people have experienced delirium tremors. DTs. It’s horrific.”
Christopher detailed his ordeal along with a shocking reveal. “It killed me. It is what caused my fall [the traumatic brain injury]. I was going through delirium tremors by myself. Completely alone. Which is deadly. You can’t do it. You sweat profusely yet you are cold. A migraine headache. Aspirin doesn’t take it away. Shaking. Can’t sleep. Zero hours of sleep. Can’t walk. I was vomiting. I wanted to avoid vomiting on myself in bed; I got to the bathroom somehow [before he fell].”
Tyler Christopher: The Road To Redemption
After brain surgery to relieve the blood putting pressure on his brain, he found himself on the brink of death — multiple times. He spent 30 days in ICU and then Neuro Rehab for three months when things started looking up. “My memories started to come back. My speech started to come back. I was able to walk without a limp.”
But his condition led to another obstacle. “Because of the severity of the injury, the doctors put me under medical guardianship. If I didn’t find one, they would make me a ward of the state.” Christopher added, “My wife didn’t want anything to do with it. I respect that. Thankfully, I had a sister who stepped up to the plate and said, ‘I don’t want him to be a ward of the state. I’ll take over as medical guardian.'”
Embracing Mental And Physical Health
Tyler Christopher candidly spoke about seeking the right medical advice. Finding one doctor to address his brain injury, bipolar disorder, addiction, and depression. While watching the episode, fans may find themselves thinking, “Man, he needs to write a book.” And he addressed that very subject during State Of Mind.
Find out more about the man Benard calls, “a warrior and survivor,” as they navigate the emotions regarding Christopher’s childhood, his dreams of being a professional athlete, struggle with his size, righting the wrongs of his upbringing to be a better father to his son, Greyson, and daughter, Boheme. Learn about his brief stint on the streets of Skid Row, and how he is doing now. For the entire episode, click here.
If you are suffering from an addiction to alcohol or know someone else who is struggling with alcohol abuse. You are not alone. Find out how you can get help at NIAAA.
General Hospital (GH) airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for airtimes. For more about what’s coming up in Port Charles, check out all the latest that’s been posted on General Hospital spoilers, and for an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.
We talk about fatherhood, being bipolar, his battle with alcoholism, his traumatic brain injury, the time when he found himself homeless & how he’s living every day now to the fullest.https://t.co/FGpF1hKQsz pic.twitter.com/cpnhLajFLU
— Maurice Benard (@MauriceBenard) March 27, 2022