Between her marriage to Tom Brady and supermodel-meets-earth-goddess status, Gisele Bündchen‘s life has long been portrayed as picture-perfect. But in her new memoir, Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life, the Brazilian runway star gets real about the mental health issues she has faced in the past.
Ahead of the book’s release, Bündchen has revealed to People that she spent the early 2000s battling anxiety and panic attacks. A difficult flying experience in 2003 triggered a crippling fear of small, enclosed spaces such as tunnels and elevators, leaving her feeling “powerless.”
“Your world becomes smaller and smaller, and you can’t breathe, which is the worst feeling I’ve ever had,” she told the magazine about her anxious thoughts.
At one point, she contemplated suicide.
“I actually had the feeling of, ‘If I just jump off my roof, this is going to end, and I never have to worry about this feeling of my world closing in,'” the 38-year-old admitted.
Those dark moments prompted Bündchen to seek professional help — and ultimately end her relationship with then-boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio because she felt “alone.” The couple called it quits in 2005.
“Everyone who crosses our path is a teacher; they come into our lives to show us something about ourselves,” she said about DiCaprio. “And I think that’s what he was. What is good versus bad? I honor him for what he was.”
A doctor’s suggestion to treat her condition with Xanax also spurred Bündchen to embrace the major wellness-oriented lifestyle for which she and Brady are now known. Concerned that she would become “dependent” on medication, she opted instead to ditch sugar, practice yoga, and give up cigarettes and alcohol.
“I had been smoking cigarettes, drinking a bottle of wine and three mocha frappuccinos every day, and I gave up everything in one day,” she shared. “I thought, if this stuff is in any way the cause of this pain in my life, it has got to go.”
Now she’s hoping that “sharing some of my vulnerabilities” will help fans see beyond the fame and wellness-focused lifestyle.
“Things can be looking perfect on the outside, but you have no idea what’s really going on,” she told People.
Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life is out Oct. 2.
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