Ellen DeGeneres is celebrating the 15th season of her daytime talk show this year, but the longtime host’s career was nearly sidelined due to bullying.
“The bullying I endured after I came out made up for the lack of it during my childhood,” DeGeneres, 59, tells Good Housekeeping in her September cover interview, on newsstands Aug. 15.
“I moved out of L.A., went into a severe depression, started seeing a therapist and had to go on antidepressants for the first time in my life,” the host explains.
On April 30, 1997, DeGeneres herself didn’t just publicly come out as gay — her character on the ABC hit sitcom Ellen did too. The episode titled “The Puppy Episode” was taped in front of a live audience. But a year after she came out, Ellen was canceled.
“It was scary and lonely. All I’d known for 30 years was work, and all of a sudden I had nothing,” she shares. “Plus, I was mad. It didn’t feel fair — I was the same person everyone had always known.”
Although DeGeneres endured a season of deep depression, she didn’t allow the bullies to win.
“Eventually I started meditating, working out and writing again, and I slowly started to climb out of it,” she tells the publication. “I can’t believe I came back from that point. I can’t believe where my life is now.”
Now, DeGeneres doesn’t pay any attention to the critics and is focusing on being the best version of herself.
“I don’t know what people are saying about me, and I don’t want to know, because I don’t care,” says DeGeneres. “My motto is, ‘I do my best. You can be with me or not.’ ”
“You are here on a very special day. Today we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the coming-out episode of my sitcom,” she said.
Fighting back tears, she continued, “It was the hardest thing that I ever had to do in my life and I would not change one moment of it because it led me to be exactly where I am today standing in front of all of you.”