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Elizabeth Vargas has revealed more details about her lifelong battle with anxiety that led her to drink and ultimately enter rehab for alcoholism.
Vargas, who previously told Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos that she’s an alcoholic, elaborated on her struggles with anxiety and how they manifested themselves when she appeared on Thursday’s The View.
Reiterating her earlier admission that she started having panic attacks after her father went off to serve in the Vietnam War, she explained that her anxiety continued into adulthood and reached the point where she felt sick and was shaking before she anchored ABC’s evening news.
“By the time I was an adolescent, I was white-knuckling my way through [the anxiety],” Vargas said on The View. “I felt nauseous almost every day. I was afraid I was going to throw up every day, because that’s how the panic and anxiety manifested itself. And I’ve had it all through my adult life … I had to take beta blockers when I anchored the evening news because I was so nervous. I was shaking. I thought I was going to be sick.”
Vargas added that she drank to hide her anxiety.
“Very early on I got the message that this was a bad feeling,” she said. “You know, people were like, ‘What is the matter with you?’ when I started having panic attacks. So I thought, ‘Oh my God, I have to hide this.’ “
After she showed up to a shoot on 20/20 and realized she was in no condition to do her job, she knew she needed help, Vargas said.
The treatment she received was designed to help her deal with her anxiety without drinking, she told The View.
“The place I went to specializes in dealing with treating trauma,” she said. “So what they did, for three months, was a lot of work. It’s not something you get done in a couple weeks of therapy. And now you learn how to deal with your feelings. Your feelings aren’t going to kill you.”
Now, Vargas says, she still feels anxiety but she “know[s] how to sit through” it.
“It’s amazing now that I’m not drinking, the anxiety’s much less, and I know that I have friends that I can call and people who love me, and I can reach out to them and get through it,” she added.
Vargas also talked about her report on Friday’s 20/20 about people with unbelievable medical conditions, called “My Strange Affliction.”
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Robert De Niro