Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Mental illness affects many people, maybe even someone you know…
Despite 'Babylon 5' not being in the Trek Universe, and in a way competition to Deep Space Nine, B5 has a special place in my heart. It was truly a great space sci-fi series that was way ahead of its time. It was a series that was better than Star Trek: Voyager or Enterprise.
On September 28, 2012, J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) posted that Michael O'Hare (Commander Sinclair, the series lead in season one) suffered a heart attack on September 23 and had remained in a coma until the 28th, when he died.
I was very sad to hear this. I was and still am a huge fan of the 'Babylon 5' series and I really enjoyed Michael O'Hare as Commander Sinclair. I remember when season 2 started being devastated that O'Hare would not be returning. I had no Internet back then and had no way of knowing Bruce Boxleitner would be replacing him on the series until the 30 second preview aired. He did make a brief return appearance in Season 2 but made a big splash in the 3rd season 2-part episode 'War Without End'. I had always wished they would have had him back more on the series, especially when they started doing TV movies. I had wanted them to do a 'Babylon 4' movie which would have focused on O'Hare as 'Valen', who was Sinclair transformed into a Minbari. JMS did do a comic book series based on the B4 concept, but I really wished it had been filmed with O'Hare starring in it.
But what we didn’t know at the time was that Michael O’Hara left the series because he was suffering from a mental illness. According to an interview with JMS; O’Hara began to exhibit signs of mental illness. He was seeing conspiracies where there was none, he began to hear voices that were not there. JMS recognized the symptoms of this mental illness and offered him help and they kept what was happening a secret so not to jeopardize the series and everyone else’s employment associated with the series. O’Hara held it together until the end of season one then they agreed to part on good terms and give another “official” reason for the departure of Commander Sinclair.
Truth is there was and still is a stigma associated with mental illness. Had JMS and O’Hara been honest and went to the network producing B5 at the time they probably would have flipped to hear their leading man was mentally ill and probably would have cancelled the series to save money, thus hundreds of other people depending on B5 for employment would be out of work. Also, JMS didn’t want O’Hara to lose future acting prospects due to his illness even after seeking treatment.
Even now people hide their illness for fear of losing their jobs or losing respect of those around them. Well if you are one of those people I can tell you not to be afraid, be proud of who you are.
Rest in Peace Commander Sinclair, may you find the peace you sought.