Oprah Winfrey said she experienced symptoms associated with a nervous breakdown last year.
The 59-year-old media mogul struggled to cope as she worked to save her struggling TV network OWN and filmed her movie comeback in ‘Lee Daniel’s The Butler’ and admitted during an interview with Kony 2012 founder Jason Russell she realised she was on the verge of having an emotional meltdown.
Speaking to People magazine, Oprah revealed: “Jason was talking about having a nervous breakdown and I was thinking, ‘I have those symptoms’. [While recording voiceovers for OWN], I remember closing my eyes while I was reading and I thought, ‘I cannot have another thing enter my brain. I need to pull back.’ “
The TV star launched OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) in January 2011 and due to poor ratings, Oprah took over the role as chief executive officer and chief creative officer in July the same year.
Viewing figures continued to fall in 2012 and by May 2012 the channel’s losses were estimated at $330 million.
However, new show ‘Oprah’s Next Chapter’ – which has featured interviews with huge stars including a two-part tell-all chat with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong – has improved the channel’s standing and it will break even later this year, but Oprah still finds it hard to deal with some individuals apparent joy at her channel’s failings.
Regarding the struggles with OWN, she said: “After 25 years of being number one, I had become accustomed to success. I didn’t expect failure and I had to dig deep.
“The schadenfreude was very painful for me because I had never experienced it. I thought, ‘Do I not get credit for the 25 years? What have I gotten myself into?’
“Failure is a great teacher. I know this intellectually but it is another thing if you’re living it.”
Fortunately Oprah had Stedman Graham, her partner of 27 years, to help her through it.
She said: “He was amazing, he said, ‘You can’t even think about quitting. You’ve been in cruise control, it’s going to turn around but you’ve got to do the work.”