Oprah Winfrey Admits She Had a Nervous Breakdown Over “Struggling Network”

Oprah Winfrey on August 12, 2013
Oprah Winfrey admits she had a nervous breakdown last year over her "struggling network" OWN and experiencing "a kind of numbness." 

Even Oprah Winfrey needs to take a break sometimes. During a new interview with Access Hollywood, the 59-year-old TV legend addressed reports last year that she was suffering from a nervous breakdown, admitting, "That is true."

Winfrey shared that her breakdown happened "in the middle of my struggling network." The Oprah Winfrey Network, aka OWN, has struggled to get off the ground since it debuted in 2011.

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While interview Jason Russell on the Kony 2012 movement and his very public breakdown, Winfrey realized that she could relate to his symptoms. "In the beginning, it was just sort of speeding and a kind of numbness and going from one thing to the next thing to the next thing," Winfrey explained to Access Hollywood. "I will tell you when I realized that I thought, 'All right, if I don't calm down I'm gonna be in serious trouble.' I was in the middle of doing voiceovers, you know? And I remember closing my eyes in between each page because looking at the page and the words at the same time was too much stimulation for my brain."

"I mean, I wasn't ready to go run naked in the streets. Let’s make that very clear," The Butler actress added, referencing Russell's meltdown. "But I had reached a point where I just couldn't take in anymore stimulation. Ok? That's what I meant by that."

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During an Aug. 15 interview on Watch Happens Live, Winfrey said her biggest personal "aha" moment happened last year when she was "getting all the schadenfreude from the media cause OWN wasn't where I wanted it to be at the time."

"Nobody was more surprised than I was about that," she said. "You have to hunker down. There's no such thing as failure: it's God telling you to move in another direction . . . All these years I've been telling people to hang in there, to hold on to their dreams, be steadfast in their vision . . . and I went, 'Oh, now I get to walk that walk, and not just talk it.'"

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The Oprah Winfrey Network has been seeing ratings growth and improving over time. "Oprah is very fond of saying we're exactly where we should be," OWN president Erik Logan told The Hollywood Reporter in October 2012. "We all knew it would take some time to take this turn; it certainly is a welcome narrative."

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