Thursday, November 26, 2020

Elizabeth Vargas will get candid about habit in new podcast: ‘Getting sober was the hardest part of my entire life’

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Elizabeth Vargas has proven bravery and power as she’s shared her battle with alcoholism and nervousness over the past seven years — most lately in a brand new podcast, Heart of the Matter With Elizabeth Vargas — and it appears beneficiant, contemplating she was pushed into publicly revealing her habit within the first place.“I didn’t make that decision to make it public — somebody else did,” the Emmy Award-winning journalist tells Yahoo Entertainment. “I was at rehab getting help,” in 2013, when she was co-anchor of ABC News’s 20/20 and privately struggling, “and somebody called up the New York Post and New York Daily News and told reporters where I was and what I was dealing with. They called me in rehab. I was forced to issue a public statement from rehab. It was incredibly distressing. It was very, very upsetting.”She continues, “It’s interesting — somebody asked me, ‘Would you have written that book? Would you have given those interviews if that story hadn’t been planted?’ And I don’t know that I would have… Because that period of getting sober for me was the hardest part of my entire life — and I wish I had the opportunity to do that in privacy. That was taken from me. But play the hand you’re dealt. It was made public. I felt so alone and so isolated and so ashamed. I thought: Maybe if I speak out, I can just let a little tiny bit of air out of that balloon of shame and isolation.”Vargas, 58, has been letting air out ever since — together with together with her New York Times Best-Selling ebook, Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction in 2016, and now with this podcast with the non-profit Partnership to End Addiction, for which she sits on the board of administrators. It sees the achieved information girl, who left ABC News in 2018 after greater than 20 years to host A&E Investigates, speaking to folks about their habit journeys. Early friends embody former NBA participant Chris Herren, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction creator David Sheff and former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy.It makes for a compelling pay attention as a result of, she says, “I’ve experienced it,” and “I never felt more alone in my entire life than I did while I was struggling with alcohol. It was the most isolating and the loneliest I ever felt. The only thing that helped with that was meeting with other people who were experiencing the same thing. So I really feel like we need to puncture that isolation and loneliness that so many people suffer from in addition to the stress of whatever anxiety or depression they might be experiencing — and whatever substance abuse they may be turning to to deal with that. I’m very invested, obviously, in this topic. I feel very strongly about the need to reduce stigma and to help people get help because it’s staggering — less than 20 percent of people in this country who need help actually get it.”The pandemic, in fact, has made every little thing worse so far as isolation and the dearth of remedy choices, that are elusive to the common American even below the perfect of circumstances.“A lot of people are having a tough time,” Vargas acknowledges. There are “millions of Americans experiencing mental health stress due to COVID — and that is on top of what we already have, which is an epidemic of addiction in this country. Many people are self-medicating with alcohol and drugs. We just really felt that the biggest thing you can do to counteract the mental health stresses and challenges is to share about it and talk about it and find out you’re not alone in it and that other people are feeling the same way… I just feel [that] is the best way to fight against the isolation that people feel around addiction and the hopelessness of anxiety and depression, which lead to so many of what we call ‘deaths of despair’ in the country.”Her personal habit journey stemmed from debilitating nervousness that began as a baby and adopted her all through her life.“I learned early on, as a little girl at age 6, to keep my anxiety a secret,” she says. “I was very ashamed of it because it didn’t look like anybody else was suffering the way I was. I had massive panic attacks. It was really, really hard.”She was an “army brat,” whose household moved yearly or two, and by no means acquired the assist she wanted.“My parents knew I had panic attacks, but weren’t sophisticated enough to understand. At that point, we weren’t even helping Vietnam vets,” like her dad, “coming home with PTSD. Nobody was helping the veterans’s children on army bases,” she says. “There was no [other] adult in my life long enough to notice that I was suffering. I wonder what my life had been like had there been a therapist or a doctor.”So, she “kept it hidden.” But as she discovered, “You can’t keep something like that bottled up inside yourself — it screams for an opening. What eventually happens is you turn to a substance to ease your way through that terrible screaming anxiety.”That was what occurred in her 20s when she began utilizing alcohol to alleviate her nervousness. But a glass of wine quickly changed into a bottle, at the same time as her profession successes grew and he or she appeared, all the time seeming so polished {and professional}, on Good Morning America and World News Tonight.“Statistics show that 60 percent of women who are alcoholics also suffer from anxiety,” Vargas says. “For decades, I used wine to soothe and ease that anxiety. That was a red flag I ignored. I wasn’t drinking alcoholically, quote, unquote. I wasn’t suffering any consequences. I wasn’t drinking to the excess that I did at the end,” when she hit all-time low after relapsing in 2014.“People, especially women, ask me all the time: ‘How do I know if I have a problem?’” she continues. “One of the first questions I ask them: ‘Ask yourself why you’re drinking. If you’re drinking not to feel something, that’s a red flag.’ I drank not to feel anxious. I drank not to feel stressed. I drank not to feel insecure… People who look like they have it all together can still feel great anxiety and great depression and great insecurity. If you’re drinking to remove that feeling, even before the drinking becomes an actual physical problem in your life, that’s a warning sign — and it’s a warning sign that I ignored.”Vargas admits she wasn’t on the lookout for indicators — although finally they turned onerous to overlook.“Part of the reason why it took me a while to finally get help and admit I was an alcoholic was because I had preconceived ideas about what an alcoholic was,” she says. “We tell ourselves and we assume all sorts of things. ‘Well, she’s drinking lovely Chardonnay — how could she possibly be an alcoholic?’ Yes, well, I’m drinking an entire bottle of it every night and maybe even more. That’s a problem.”And she hadn’t accomplished any work on her underlying subject of tension.“I was so busy racing away from my fear, I never turned to confront it,” she says. “Even as an adult right now, my anxiety didn’t magically go away. It’s definitely less powerful than it was but part of dealing with anxiety is turning to face those fears and understanding that they’re just feelings and many of these fears are of things that will not happen. Just to have somebody to talk to about it,” starting as that younger, scared 6-year-old woman, “would have been an amazing gift.”So Vargas, a mother of two sons together with her ex-husband, hopes speaking about habit in her podcast helps others who’re struggling and missing connection throughout this loopy time. Though she additionally hopes it helps those that aren’t addicts.“The disease of addiction can strike anybody just the way cancer or heart disease can,” she says. “And it’s a chronic disease, like diabetes, which needs to be managed — but we don’t as a society look at it this way. There is this impatience of: Why aren’t you better already?”Vargas with sons Zach and Sam:She is aware of effectively, “There isn’t this point where you go: I’m home free! I’m done! I don’t have to work on this or manage this anymore! Recovery is something you deal with on a daily basis. There is no such thing as you’re all clear and you don’t have to work on this any longer.”So, she provides, “We need to be much more compassionate as a society about how we address this issue and the assumptions we make about the disease and the shaming and embarrassment around it.”Listen to Heart of the Matter With Elizabeth Vargas now.Read extra from Yahoo Entertainment:

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