'I felt powerless': Gisele Bündchen reveals she contemplated suicide after she suffered from extreme panic attacks
Considered to be one of the world's highest paid models, Gisele Bündchen is, after all, just a normal human being with regular problems. Bündchen, who is married to one of the highest-paid athletes, and can breastfeed one-handed while getting ready for a lingerie photoshoot, is now ready to speak up and discard the perception that her life is as perfect as it looks.
In her new memoir, titled 'Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life', the model reveals that she once battled panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.
“Things can be looking perfect on the outside, but you have no idea what’s really going on,” she told People magazine recently in an interview. “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.”
The famously private model, who was a twin and middle child raised by Valdir, a teacher, and Vania, a bank teller in Horizontina, Brazil, said she spent her childhood feeling “not very special”, until that fateful day when she was discovered by a modeling agent at a mall in São Paulo at 14.
Initially, she had quite the tough start in the industry. “They told me, ‘Your nose is too big and your eyes are too small and you’re never going to be on the cover of a magazine,’ ” she recalled.
However, the model got her big break in 1997, when she walked topless in Alexander McQueen’s runway show. The very next year, Bündchen appeared on the cover of Vogue as an exemplar of “the return of the curve.” Then, in 2002, she landed a deal in the form of a $25 million contract with Victoria’s Secret, and around the same time became a tabloid favorite owing to her relationship with Leonardo DiCaprio.
However, Bündchen, who is now married to Tom Brady, said her perfect life came with its own share of crippling anxiety. She reportedly had her first panic attack during a bumpy flight on a small plane in 2003, because of which she developed a fear of tunnels, elevators and other enclosed spaces.
“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. Like, ‘Why should I be feeling this?’ I felt like I wasn’t allowed to feel bad,” she said. “But I felt powerless. Your world becomes smaller and smaller, and you can’t breathe, which is the worst feeling I’ve ever had.”
And when these panic attacks started bothering her even when she was within the safety of her home, Bündchen said that she contemplated suicide. “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.’ ”
The model decided to see a specialist, who prescribed her Xanax. However, the she did not want to rely on medication for her panic attacks. “The thought of being dependent on something felt, in my mind, even worse, because I was like, ‘What if I lose that [pill]? Then what? Am I going to die?’ The only thing I knew was, I needed help.”
“I had been smoking cigarettes, drinking a bottle of wine and three mocha Frappuccinos every day, and I gave up everything in one day,” said Bündchen, who also cut out sugar and turned to yoga and meditation to combat her stress. “I thought, if this stuff is in any way the cause of this pain in my life, it’s gotta go.”
Speaking about DiCaprio, the model said she has no hard feelings, given that she left him after realizing she was completely "alone" in her soul-searching. “Everyone who crosses our path is a teacher, they come into our lives to show us something about ourselves,” she told the publication. “And I think that’s what he was. What is good versus bad? I honor him for what he was.”