Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen opened up about her struggles with panic attacks in her new memoir, Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life. According to InStyle, the supermodel and mother of two wrote about times when she struggled with panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.
“Things can be looking perfect on the outside, but you have no idea what’s really going on,” Bundchen said in an interview with People.
“I felt like maybe it was time to share some of my vulnerabilities, and it made me realize, everything I’ve lived through, I would never change because I think I am who I am because of those experiences.”
Bundchen, 38, writes about her childhood, saying that as one of six girls living in Horizontina, Brazil, she didn’t feel “very special” until she was discovered at 14 at a mall in Sao Paulo. But her time in the industry began roughly – Bundchen was told she’d never land a cover because her “nose is too big and [her] eyes are too small.”
After getting her big break in 1997 walking a runway for Alexander McQueen, Bundchen graced the cover of Vogue. Her body was held up as a call for the return of a fit, healthy-looking body, replacing the once coveted heroin chic look of the early ’90s. In 2000, Bundchen landed a record-breaking $25 million deal with Victoria’s Secret. Her fame was further punctuated by her relationship with actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
Bundchen, who is now married to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, says her sudden fame was the catalyst for her anxiety. She said she had her first panic attack on an airplane in 2003.
“I had a wonderful position in my career, I was very close to my family, and I always considered myself a positive person, so I was really beating myself up,” the model said. She added that she began to feel short of breath and that this attack turned into a fear of enclosed spaces. She said that when she began having panic attacks in her home, she began to have suicidal thoughts.
“I actually had the feeling of, ‘If I just jump off my balcony, this is going to end, and I never have to worry about this feeling of my world closing in.'”
After seeing a doctor who recommended Xanax, Bundchen went through a total lifestyle change. She cut out sugar, stopped drinking alcohol, and took up yoga and meditation. She also broke off her relationship with DiCaprio in 2005. Though she broke up with him, Bundchen says she doesn’t regret her relationship with him.
“Everyone who crosses our path is a teacher, they come into our lives to show us something about ourselves,” Bundchen says. “I honor him for what he was.”