Oprah says director's breakdown symptoms opened her eyes

Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah Winfrey.

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey has confirmed reports that she suffered a nervous breakdown last year.

At the time of her breakdown, she said, she was filming her role in the civil rights movie The Butler, while also trying to improve the profile of her "struggling [TV] network", the Oprah Winfrey Network, which launched in 2011.

As she filmed an interview with Jason Russell, the director who suffered a very public breakdown in March 2012, Winfrey said: "I was sitting and listening to Jason Russell describe his symptoms ... saying, 'Um, this sounds pretty familiar to me'."

Winfrey's own symptoms began with "just sort of speeding and a kind of numbness and going from one thing to the next thing to the next thing ... I realised that 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."

Russell's breakdown climaxed with the director being caught on camera running naked through the streets of San Diego.

"I mean, I wasn't ready to go run naked in the streets. Let's make that clear," Winfrey said.

"But I had reached a point where I just couldn't take in any more stimulation. Okay? That's what I meant by that."

Her network had an estimated loss of US$330 million ($394 million) over its first year on the air.

- Independent

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