Gisele Bundchen has a close, loving family and has earned hundreds of millions of dollars in her modeling career. But mental health issues can impact anyone, no matter how how “perfect” someone’s life seems. In an exclusive interview with People for her new book, “Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life” (Avery), out Tuesday, Bundchen revealed that she has struggled with panic attacks and suicidal thoughts in the past.
Bundchen discussed with the publication some of the revelations contained in her memoir, including how she began suffering from panic attacks after a particularly bumpy airplane ride in 2003. Soon after, she began experiencing them in tunnels and elevators as well.
“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,” Bundchen told People. “But I felt powerless. Your world becomes smaller and smaller, and you can’t breathe, which is the worst feeling I’ve ever had.”
Bundchen said that when the panic attacks began to affect her in her own home, she had thoughts of suicide, saying, “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 supermodel said that a doctor initially prescribed her Xanax, but she ultimately decided she didn’t want to rely on medication. Instead, she took up yoga and meditation to combat the stress, and cut out unhealthy vices.
“I had been smoking cigarettes, drinking a bottle of wine and three mocha Frappuccinos every day, and I gave up everything in one day,” Bundchen told People.
She said she also cut out sugar and eventually split with then-boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio.
“I thought, if this stuff is in any way the cause of this pain in my life, it’s gotta go,” she said.
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