Oprah Winfrey – One of the Most Influential Women in the World

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She is a known television personality, actress, producer, and a philanthropist. Although she has done various works in the media, Oprah is popular because of her show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. She has won many awards and is one of the wealthiest African-American individuals in the United States (Peck, 2010). Her wealth came after years of living in poverty and enduring abuse. Winfrey was born to a poor teenage girl in 1954 (Peck, 2010). She stayed with her grandmother during the first few years of her life. During that period, Winfrey was subjected to physical abuse.

After a few years, she joined her mother who lived in a poor and dangerous neighborhood. Winfrey’s mother did not have enough time to supervise and protect her child, and in turn, Oprah was sexually assaulted by different men. Some of the men who abused her were family members whom she trusted (Illouz, 2003). Winfrey’s first abuse happened when she was nine years old, and by the time she was 14 years she became pregnant (Illouz, 2003). Unfortunately, her baby died during infancy.

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After a few years, Winfrey was sent to stay at her father’s house. During her time there, she focused on her life and began performing better in school. That was the beginning of her story. Winfrey held several jobs before starting The Oprah Winfrey Show. She also started acting and later on, became a producer. She has also authored several books during her time.

Depression

Oprah Winfrey has openly discussed her struggle with depression in 1998 (McKenzie, 2017). Her depression was caused by the failure of her movie, Beloved, which had been produced in the same year. Winfrey had expected the movie to perform well at the box office, but things did not go as she had hoped (McKenzie, 2017). She had dedicated a lot of effort in the movies and could not believe that things did not turn out as planned. As a result, Winfrey started having negative thoughts and feelings about herself. The fact that she was already a successful person did not stop her from falling into depression. She felt like a failure at that moment.

During that period, Oprah sought solace in food. She would eat to suppress her emotions (McKenzie, 2017). At some point, Oprah began purchasing tickets to enhance the numbers at the box office. However, her efforts were fruitless thus resulting in more negative thoughts.

Winfrey also suffered from sleep disturbances, lack of energy, and the desire to stay alone (McKenzie, 2017). Just like many people who become depressed, she found something that could take away her pain. In her case, food was the only thing that could make her feel better.

How Oprah Winfrey Overcame her Depression

In most cases, mental health problems require medication. It is usually appropriate to seek medical assistance from healthcare practitioners (Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2018). However, some people possess certain unique strengths that can help them in overcoming their mental illness. Oprah Winfrey was one of these individuals. One of her strengths was that she was able to realize that she was not well. Realization enables people to start working towards finding a solution to their problems (Park et al., 2018).

After realizing that she was unwell, she began taking care of herself. She would focus on more positive things she had in life (McKenzie, 2017). Oprah started disregarding any negative thoughts and feelings she had about herself and instead appreciated herself. She began focusing more on the things she had instead of those she hoped to have. Oprah also controlled her eating habits, and within six weeks she was able to overcome her depression.

Oprah once said she learned never to put all her hopes and expectations in one basket (McKenzie, 2017). She learned always to appreciate whatever she had instead of what she did not have. Oprah was fortunate to have overcome her mental illness through self-care methods.

What I Learn from Oprah’s Experience

Oprah Winfrey’s experience shows that mental disorders can affect any individual no matter their social status. Winfrey became depressed even though she was very successful and rich. She had been working on her popular show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, for many years and had become very famous. From her experience, it is clear that anyone can be depressed when they are under extreme stress. On normal occasions, stress is a good thing, and it helps keep human beings alert and motivated (Needham et al., 2015). However, too much stress is harmful and can lead to episodes of depression.

In addition to that, Oprah’s experience shows that every person has their way of dealing with their depression. Some people prefer staying indoors while others start drinking excessively. People suffering from depression use such methods to feel better about themselves (Midgley et al., 2017). However, such habits can be harmful to an individual’s health. For instance, people who become excessive drinkers during their depression can suffer from alcohol-related diseases. On the other hand, people who seek comfort from food risk suffering from obesity-related illnesses. Therefore, suffering from depression can indirectly lead to other diseases or physical discomforts.

Additionally, Oprah’s experience shows that high self-evaluation is important when dealing with depression. The moment she realized she had a mental disorder she decided to start appreciating all the things she had and stop stressing over those that she wished she did. Her experience shows that positive thoughts and optimism can cure depression. A person suffering from the illness can practice this method on their own or seek the help from a medical practitioner (Sobrinho, Campos, & Holden, 2016). One can also engage in positive activities like being kind to others, being grateful, meditating, and many others. Through such behaviors, a depressed individual will start feeling better about himself or herself (Sobrinho, Campos, & Holden, 2016). Consequently, such an individual will be able to come out of depression.

Lastly, Oprah’s experience shows that people should learn to diversify economically, socially, and emotionally. Diversifying ensures that an individual will not be too attached to a specific item. As a result, such a person will not be overly disappointed if one of the important items in their lives fails to work as anticipated (Sobrinho, Campos, & Holden, 2016). The level of stress will be low thus protecting him or her from mental illness.

Conclusion

Oprah Winfrey managed to become very successful despite her poor background. In 1998, she was depressed for six weeks and was able to overcome her situation through positive thinking. Her experience shows anyone gets depressed and that positive thinking can get them out of their situation.

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