TULSA, Oklahoma - A recent statewide awards ceremony in Tulsa featured a guest speaker with a surprising story.

Jane Pauley burst onto the national scene when she was just 25 years old; 40 years later, she turned the page on a whole new career as host of the CBS Sunday Morning show.

It’s been a year now since Pauley debuted as only the third host in the history of the CBS Sunday Morning show, following in the footsteps of legendary journalists Charles Karault and Charlie Osgood.

“Sunday Morning is a special zone. And to make a change, you never know how people will respond to change,” she said.

Pauley's career has been marked by change and punctuated by soaring success - taking over the reins for Barbara Walters on the Today show at the tender age of 25, helping launch NBC's Dateline and co-hosting for the program for 11 years.

But there were also failures along the way, most notably the Jane Pauley Show, which folded after just one season.

“Success is what we emphasize when you do the highlights of your life, but it’s the spaces in between when you are in transition…that's when you find out what you're made of and who you are,” she said.

Who Pauley turned out to be took her, and the rest of America, by surprise, and it’s the story behind her appearance at the Champions of Health Banquet in Tulsa, where she shares the diagnosis that changed her life.

“My reputation, the word that best described my public reputation was normal,” she said.

But at age 50, Pauley developed bipolar disorder. America's sweetheart would spend three weeks in a mental institution trying to regain her footing in a life that now seemed anything but normal.

“This was triggered, so boom. I am suffering from bipolar disorder. I have not had a recurrence in the now 16 years since I was very sick, but I take care of myself every day,” she said.

Pauley has traveled the country speaking about her mental illness.

She insists that going public was one of the easiest decisions she ever made - also one of the most rewarding.

“I can't think of any other thing in my professional life that has made a bigger difference in other people's lives as to have shared the revelation that I was sick and I got better,” she said.

At 66, Pauley is just getting started on what she calls the most important professional assignment of her life.

And those bumps in the road have taught her to savor every minute of it.

“I've had a long career in television and I've worked with great people and great programs, but this is unique and it is an absolute privilege,” Pauley said.