Supermodel Gisele Bündchen is relatively quiet when it comes to discussing her personal life, but she is now opening up and revealing that not everything is as perfect as it may seem.
In an interview with PEOPLE to promote her new memoir, Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life, out Oct. 2, the 39-year-old, who got her start in modeling at the age of 14, opened up about her mental health struggles that once led her to contemplate suicide.
“Things can be looking perfect on the outside, but you have no idea what’s really going on,” Bündchen told the outlet. “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.”
After experiencing her first panic attack during a bumpy plane ride in 2003, Bündchen said she develop a fear of tunnels, elevators, and other enclosed spaces, leading to more panic attacks that occurred even in the safety of her own home and eventually led her to contemplate suicide.
“I felt powerless. Your world becomes smaller and smaller, and you can’t breathe, which is the worst feeling I’ve ever had,” the supermodel continued, describing her thought process when the panic attacks became more prevalent. “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.’”
Bündchen eventually sought professional help, though when she was prescribed Xanax, she realized that she did not want to rely on medication out of a fear of becoming too dependent on it. That reluctance, along with her doctor’s advice, led her to embark on a new journey of health and wellness.
“I had been smoking cigarettes, drinking a bottle of wine and three mocha Frappucinos every day, and I gave up everything in one day,” she said, adding that she also reconsider her relationships, including that with Leonardo DiCaprio. “I thought, if this stuff is in any way the cause of this pain in my life, it’s gotta go.”
Bündchen soon changed her eating and drinking habits, and in the years since has turned to yoga and meditation to combat stress, habits that she has also instilled in her family, including 8-year-old son Benjamin and 5-year-old daughter Vivian Lake, whom she shares with husband Tom Brady.