Oprah Winfrey's work ethic is unparalleled, which has been both a blessing and a curse for the TV titan. Speaking to Access Hollywood's Shaun Robinson on Tuesday, Sept. 17, the 59-year-old star revealed that she nearly suffered a nervous breakdown in 2012.
While filming Lee Daniels' The Butler last year, Winfrey was in the midst of trying to revitalize her "struggling" TV channel, OWN. It wasn't until she interviewed Kony 2012director Jason Russell for an episode of Oprah's Next Chapter that she realized she was burning the candle at both ends. (Russell suffered a very public meltdown in March 2012 when he stripped naked and stopped traffic in San Diego, Calif. Police intervened, and he was taken to a local hospital. No charges were filed.)
After listening to Russell describe his symptoms, Winfrey realized, "This sounds pretty familiar to me."
Asked to describe her own symptoms, the Mississippi native replied, "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. 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 voice-overs, 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."
Still, Winfrey continued to juggle her acting career with her OWN responsibilities. After interviewing Fergie for a separate episode of Oprah's Next Chapter, however, the talk-show host realized it was time to take a step back. "I mean, I wasn't ready to go run naked in the streets. Let's make that very clear," Winfrey said, referencing Russell's incident. "But I had reached a point where I just couldn't take in anymore stimulation."
Taking a break turned out to be exactly what Winfrey—and her network—needed. She earned raves for her role as a housewife in Lee Daniels' The Butler (not to mention early Oscars buzz), and as of August 2013, OWN now reaches more than 83 million American households.