Mental health symposium brings network news anchor Elizabeth Var - FOX Carolina 21

Mental health symposium brings network news anchor Elizabeth Vargas to Greenville

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Elizabeth Vargas (FOX Carolina/ 5/20/18) Elizabeth Vargas (FOX Carolina/ 5/20/18)

"I gave it my full heart, that I did my very best, that I wasn't afraid, and even when I was afraid, I took a deep breath and went on and persevered."

You've seen her on your TV screen, an Emmy award winning journalist, a 20/20 and ABC network news anchor - Elizabeth Vargas. 

"My drinking had seemed moderate from most people's standards, but over the decades, I started to need that wine in order to relax," Vargas said at the Southeastern Symposium on Mental Health hosted in downtown Greenville. 

Yet the legacy Elizabeth Vargas wants to leave, is not solely focused on her work. 

"Self medication does not always leave a full-blown addiction. Self-medication can still rob you of the joy that is yours. When you turn to a substance or numb a bad feeling, you're also numbing the good stuff. It's not selective numbing!"

It's hard to imagine this talented "always on the go" mother and journalist can feel alone and anxious. Yet Vargas managed to keep up a powerful career - all the while, she says turning to a bottle of white wine. 

"I still remember my youngest son standing by the head of my bed, his body radiating the warmth from the sun, the smell of sunscreen, and saying to me, 'Mommy, when are you going to wake up?!" Vargas said, recounting a family vacation.

Vargas said she's had anxiety since she was 6-years-old when her father went off to serve in the Vietnam War. It's a struggle she's battled for years and has shared with the world in her book "Between Breaths."

"The power is in how many people have said 'I read your book and I decided to get help, I read your book and I have more compassion for my daughter that needs help.'" said Vargas.

Her goal is to help erase the stigma surrounding mental health. 

"It's a matter of seeing a glass half full instead of half empty, and gratitude lists are something every single person should do. Every single day," said Vargas. "We all need to be aware of what we have to be grateful for in life. And stop focusing on what's wrong and what should be different."

She keeps a gratitude journal, one she writes in every day. 

It's a battle she's still conquering and her own story may be one of the most powerful she's ever told. 

"As I tell my sons, courage is doing something even when you're afraid, so to be able to have lived life fully with courage, to have done my job with integrity.... that's a great legacy," Vargas said. "And a legacy I hope to continue." 

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