NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — ESPN sideline reporter Britt McHenry says the backlash from a viral video showing her berate a towing company employee caused her so much stress that it may have permanently affected her vision.

McHenry told Marie Claire that ESPN had to hire a security detail because she had received threats. She said at first she tried to avoid reading the criticism about her online, but a couple of months later she finally gave into the temptation.

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“Bloggers called me ‘vile,’ a ‘bleach-blonde bubblehead,’ and ‘a sorry excuse for a human being,” she said. “I would stay up late at night, torturing myself with Google searches, punishing myself for what I had done and reminding myself that this nightmare was real.”

She said the vision in her right eye eventually grew cloudy and she was diagnosed with CSR, a condition caused by trauma or stress. McHenry, 30, now regularly receives injections in her eye, and her doctor says her vision may never improve, she said.

“It’s hard to describe how it feels to have people dislike you when they don’t even know you,” she said. “It takes a toll on your mind and body alike.”

She, however, told the magazine she has no one to blame but herself and insists the incident, for which ESPN suspended her for one week, does not reflect who she really is.

“I apologized on Twitter and meant it,” she said. “I felt awful about the hurtful words that had come out of my mouth in the exchange with the towing company employee. No matter the tenor of the conversation, I never should have responded in such a personal way.”

In the 2015 incident, McHenry went to retrieve her car after it was towed in Arlington, Virginia. Video of the exchange between her and the employee was then released online.

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“I’m in the news, sweetheart. I will f***ing sue this place,” McHenry says in the video.


She later remarks, “Yep, that’s all you are about is just taking people’s money, with no education, no skill set – just want to clarify that,” and adds, “Maybe if I was missing some teeth (the garage) would hire me, huh?”

“I’m on television and you’re in a f***ing trailer, honey,” McHenry continues. “Lose some weight, baby girl.”

McHenry said in the article she has since been trying to rebuild her credibility as a sports journalist from scratch.

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“Every time somebody questioned why I still had a job, my goal was to break news and show them why,” she said. “I put blinders on, concentrating on the next assignment, not letting myself unravel.”