Ellen Degeneres revealed in a new interview that she hit "rock bottom" after coming out in 1997.
"I was the punch line of lots of jokes. I laughed at some, but I realized there’s somebody on the other side of them. It’s cruel," Degeneres told Out.
"I've never liked mean comedy, but that became even more important to me after I was the brunt of it."
Degeneres came out as a lesbian on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 1997. She also appeared on the cover of Time magazine shortly after.
In the year that followed, her hit television show "Ellen" was canceled and she was having trouble in her personal life.
"I wasn't sure if I was going to work again, and although I was out, I was still trying to alter myself -- not dressing the way I wanted to dress or wearing my hair the way I wanted to," the comedian shared.
But slowly, things began to change. She landed a gig as a talk show host on the now-incredibly successful "The Ellen Degeneres Show." She also met her now-wife Portia de Rossi in 2004. The pair married in 2008.
"Time is a strange thing. I was at rock bottom and out of money, with no work in sight, but one step at a time, it gets better," she shared. "It gets much better than better."