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Oprah Winfrey Reveals Near Nervous Breakdown

August 15, 2013, 9:03 amwhomagazine

"I was falling apart," Oprah tells WHO

Oprah Winfrey Reveals Near Nervous Breakdown
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Oprah Winfrey, Stedman Graham. Photo: Getty

Oprah Winfrey has long been praised for her ability to get people to share their personal stories on national television, and now she's turning the camera back on herself.

In a new interview with WHO's sister pubication, People Magazine, the media mogul reveals she forced herself to take a step back from her heavy workload last summer after realising she was on the brink of a nervous breakdown as she struggled to turn her TV network into a success.

Opening up to about the painful moment of realisation for the first time, Oprah recalls when she flew from her New Orleans movie set (where she was filming Lee Daniels' The Butler) to interview Kony 2012 founder, Jason Russell.

"Jason was talking about having a nervous breakdown, and I was thinking, 'I have those symptoms,'" she reveals.

Winfrey's breaking point came just days later as she headed into the OWN headquarters in Los Angeles to record voice-overs for her shows: "I remember closing my eyes while I was reading. I thought, 'I cannot have another thing enter my brain.' I needed to pull back."

She confesses the harsh press criticism of her network hit her hard, and she credits her longterm partner, Stedman Graham, with helping her soldier on to overcome the disappointing start.

She says, "After 25 years of being number one, I had become accustomed to success. I didn't expect failure. I was tested and I had to dig deep. The schadenfreude (pleasure from misfortune of others) was very painful for me, because I had never experienced it."

"He was amazing," Oprah reveals about her fiance of 21 years. "He said, 'You can't even think about quitting.'" And while he encouraged her, he didn't sugarcoat the challenges she faced. Oprah remembers Stedman's advice verbatim: "You have been in cruise control," he told his longtime partner. "It's gonna turn around, but you've gotta do the work."

Going on to describe their first date 30 years ago, Oprah reveals she was struck by his perseverance. "We went waterskiing," she explains. "Stedman tried 28 times [to get up] and wouldn't give up. I thought, 'What is wrong with him? Good lord, this is exhausting!' He would not quit."

Taking his perseverance on as her own as she headed back to work, Graham is never far from Winfrey's mind: "I have an iPad filled with things he says. He is the most positive person ever."

"We're like an old married couple," she muses.

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25 Comments

  1. marlene10:27pm Monday 19th August 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    She should retire and get herself in shape , not continue to be a cult of ONE. Her days of being slightly interesting were long ago. Now she is ALL about herself , and CULTS.

    Reply
  2. rick03:54am Friday 16th August 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    just like kim lardasshian she just won't go away and has to be in the limelight all the time here's a tip OPRAH RETIRE GO AWAY.

    Reply
  3. dess12:13am Friday 16th August 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    pray for you...

    Reply
  4. Nana11:16pm Thursday 15th August 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    LOVe you OpraH, YOu go get em. Don't take notice of too many. YOU are a wonderful savy person. Hang in there YOU can get through it. Hormones are a #$%$ when they try to run your life. Cheers...From one that knows :) signed Down Under

    Reply
  5. Lothar R10:34pm Thursday 15th August 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Tooo much money sticks in her throat

    Reply
  6. Mangsaab10:31pm Thursday 15th August 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    I'd have a nervous breakdown too if I had to be wonderful all the time. Must be Michael Jackson syndrome, where fame is its own prison. She is still in the public gaze even after retiring. I don't envy her her money, she's paid for it with her "life".

    Reply
  7. cocles chimeira08:11pm Thursday 15th August 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Poor dear.Then also having to put up with pesky foreign hand bag sales people who are all racist.That's more than anybody could cope with,what with all the worry about the billions in the bank maybe getting stolen etc etc.Life is a #$%$

    Reply
  8. shirleen b08:10pm Thursday 15th August 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    You are much loved Oprah. God Bless you.

    Reply
  9. JUNJUN06:28pm Thursday 15th August 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Im sure no one on this blog would say half the stuff you are typing to her face. She will surprise everyone very soon and become the first Black continent owner one day. No one can underestimate this woman or her potential

    Reply
  10. Ugnisaet04:20pm Thursday 15th August 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    And this big black #$%$ is a racist.

    Reply

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