By Lynda Hirsch

December 21, 2019 4 min read

Protests have stopped wars, given women the vote, garnered civil rights and, this week, brought a television network to its knees — the Hallmark Channel, which offers fluffy talk shows, even fluffier movies and stays away from all things controversial. It also employs lots of past and present actors with soap credentials. A commercial from wedding planning company Zola was set to air. The ad featured two brides kissing at the altar. Oh, the horror!

The network pulled the ad, as it feared protests from viewers. It created protests all right. Just not the kind they expected. Outraged viewers said they were boycotting the channel. Even worse, multitudes said they were going to start watching the Lifetime channel. Hallmark executives feared that once viewers tuned in to Lifetime, they might not go back.

Hallmark executives apologized for their original decision and aired the commercial. Guess what? The world did not come to an end. If you do not like the commercial, you can fast-forward your DVR, like most people already do.

I have adored Emmy award-winning Maurice Benard (Sonny, "General Hospital") for decades. And it's not just for his dimples or his phenomenal acting — not that those do not count. It is his openness about dealing with mental health issues. He not only walks the walk, which is not a walk in the park, he talks the talk about the condition.

I, too, suffer with bipolar. I have lucky bipolar 1, which means issues with sleep, chattering faster than a gerbil and being snappish. He has bipolar 2. That means his mania is more amped up. Back in the day, it was called manic depression as you titter back and forth from each emotional condition. Luckily, we have both found a way to deal with it. This is his story, not mine. And what a story it is.

His Harper Collins book, "Nothing General About It," is an unvarnished look at what life is like for him and those around him. He reveals he was not pleased when Laura Wright took over as Carly. Now he considers her a friend and perfect scene partner. He was 20 when he had the first issues with bipolar, and he gives credit to his wife, Paula, his castmates and his doctors. He is open about the friction between him and his father, offers photos and behind the scenes looks. Most important, the book lets people know one can have a wonderful life with the proper treatment. It is due to be out in April and can be preordered via Harper Collins and Amazon. It is a fabulous holiday present, as it gives the best thing anyone can get hope when you feel hopeless — support and encouragement.

"General Hospital" has a special gift for its viewers. On Dec. 23, it is trotting out that old chestnut, "A Christmas Carol." It features Michael Easton as Scrooge. Franco and Liz are the Cratchets. Almost every member of the cast will be spreading yuletide joy and redemption. They could have aired a repeat. Instead, the writers/producers and actors wanted it to be a special holiday show.

To find out more about Lynda Hirsch and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: JillWellington at Pixabay

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