Gisele Bündchen is a model and actor. In fact, she is one of the highest-paid models in the world. But as we have learned time and time again, money cannot buy happiness, and that is the case with Bündchen, who recently revealed she once struggled with panic attacks so severe they caused her to have suicidal thoughts.
Bündchen opened up about this dark and difficult time in her new memoir, Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life.
“Things can be looking perfect on the outside, but you have no idea what’s really going on,” Bündchen told 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.”
Of course, from the outside looking in, Bündchen led the perfect life indeed. At the time her panic attacks began, she was at the peak of her professional career and dating Leonardo DiCaprio. But her success came with a side of anxiety.
“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,” she told the magazine. “Like, ‘Why should I be feeling this?’ I felt like I wasn’t allowed to feel bad… I felt powerless.”
Bündchen recalled her first panic attack, which occurred during a bumpy flight in 2003, to People. “Your world becomes smaller and smaller, and you can’t breathe,” Bündchen said. It was “the worst feeling I’ve ever had.”
But her panic attacks didn’t end there. After the initial attack, Bündchen developed a fear of tunnels, elevators, enclosed spaces and — eventually — her own home. That, Bündchen said, is when she began contemplating 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.’”
Thankfully, Bündchen got help. She completely overhauled her lifestyle and turned to yoga and meditation to combat stress.
“I had been smoking cigarettes, drinking a bottle of wine and three mocha Frappucinos [sic] every day, and I gave up everything in one day,” Bündchen told People. “I thought, if this stuff is in any way the cause of this pain in my life, it’s gotta go.”
And while everyone manages anxiety differently, we are thrilled Bündchen found a solution that worked — and continues to work — for her.
For more information on the warning signs and prevention of suicide, click here. If you’re considering suicide or fear you may become suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24-7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you’re worried about someone you love, visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org. If you live outside the U.S., you can find a list of suicide-prevention hotlines worldwide here.