Some people assume that Brazilian-born actress and model, Gisele Bündchen has an enviable life. But despite being the girlfriend of heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio for five years, even winning People’s ‘Most Beautiful Couples List’ in 2004, Bündchen’s new book reveals anything but an enviable life.
Despite being a stunning model and multi-millionaire in her own right, Bündchen has suffered from mental health issues during her career, many as a result of the tremendous pressure she was under for decades due to her high profile.
Having enjoyed much success as a supermodel and actress, the now 38-year-old Bündchen has issues in the background which never went away. She outlines in her new memoirs, a book entitled “Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life,” that while she was close with her family back in Brazil, she never felt settled or in a good place during her relationship with DiCaprio. But more shocking revelations lay ahead.
Bündchen hoped in her heart that marrying New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would give her some peace and allow her to feel settled and live her life. But despite having everything from money to a wonderful husband, Bündchen was miserable – and then the panic attacks started. Those panic attacks would strike when the mother-of-two was least expecting it.
In an interview Bündchen recently gave to People magazine, she spoke about how difficult life was for her over the past few years. “I had a wonderful position in my career, and I was very close to my family,” she told the magazine. “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 answered rhetorically.
The panic attacks started following a turbulent flight in a small plane back in 2003. Since then, Bündchen would endure severe panic attacks when she was in elevators, tunnels and other enclosed spaced. This had a tremendous impact on her life and those around her, but she was unable to break free from the issues. That all led, understandably, to thoughts of bad things including suicide.
Living in Fear
“It felt like everything in my life was going to kill me,” Bündchen explains in her book. “First it was the airplanes, then elevators. Then it was tunnels and hotels and modeling studios and cars. Now it was my own apartment.” For her, everyday life was a living hell.
Bündchen puts it vividly in her book, explaining to her readers: “Everything had become a cage, and I was the animal trapped inside, panting for air,” she writes. “I couldn’t see a way out, and I couldn’t stand another day of feeling this way.” It was after months of this suffering that Bündchen just assumed she might be “better off dead.” She was considering suicide by this stage and in a serious way.
For those who have suffered from panic attacks on a regular basis, life can be a terrible struggle, and sometimes one doesn’t want to continue with. “The idea swept over me then: Maybe it will be easier if I just jump. It will be all over. I can get out of this.” She also recalled how badly she wanted to go back 20 years, to do things differently with her life choices.
Bündchen wore her heart on her sleeve as she revealed gory details in her memoir about how desperate she felt some days. “When I think back on that moment, and that 23-year-old girl, I want to cry. I want to tell her that everything will be all right, that she hasn’t even begun to live her life,” she wrote. “But in that moment, the only answer seemed to be to jump.” Thankfully, Bündchen had the peace of mind and presence to seek professional help before things spiraled further.
Drugs Don’t Work
While Bündchen gave the high doses of Xanax prescribed by her doctors a whirl, she was well aware that such medication was no long-term solution for her issues. She remained on the medication for a while, but it wasn’t until she embarked on a serious lifestyle overhaul that things got better. She started by stopping smoking and excessive drinking, as well as drinking too much coffee.
Bündchen was frank and candid about her trials and tribulations with alcohol and caffeine. “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 revealed to People. “I thought, ‘If this stuff is in any way the cause of this pain in my life, it’s gotta go.'” And go it did, as Bündchen went through a remarkable life change.
Reports were all over the media as far back as 2009 regarding Bündchen’s rocky relationship with DiCaprio. Vanity Fair reported that their relationship “was fraught with dramas that included an eight-month breakup, a reconciliation, and recurring reports of Gisele’s exasperation at Leo’s womanizing ways.” When it dawned on her that she was alone in her soul-searching, she did the right thing and ended the relationship with Leo.
Bündchen said it best during that Vanity Fair interview when she said: “We were very young, and we grew together in a lot of ways,” she said. “We were just not meant to be boyfriend and girlfriend, but I respect him enormously, and I wish him nothing but the best.” But Bündchen claims her relationship with Brady was night and day to how things were with Leo. The couple married in 2009 and had two children, Benjamin and Vivian.
Bündchen explained in her new book that she faced an even bigger challenge than previous ones when Brady told her just two months into their relationship that his ex, Bridget Moynahan was having Tom’s baby. Once again, Bündchen’s world had been turned upside down, and she was in turmoil.
Despite the impact Brady’s baby with his ex had on her, Bündchen explained in her book that she realized fast that Brady would need her support. “I wanted to be there for Jack and Tom, and do whatever I could to create stability in their lives, and help them to have a close relationship,” she wrote. But Brady’s son John, who now goes by the name of Jack, was a “blessing in disguise” for the couple. As Bündchen wrote that little Jack Brady helped her “heart expand in ways I didn’t know was possible.”
Bündchen gave another interview more recently to Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts. In that interview, she explained how the panic attacks had all started. “It started all in a little plane. I was in Costa Rica, and I was flying a six-seater plane, and the plane started shaking like a little leaf. I was, like, completely a sense of powerless, you know?” she asked. But that plane ride led Bündchen down a desperate path, as she explained further.
“So it started with a little plane ride, but then it became tunnels, subways, elevators,” the model explained. “I lived on the ninth floor in an apartment, and I would go up nine floors of stairs because I was scared that I would suffocate. It was crazy. My world just kept getting smaller and smaller.” Thankfully, the brave life changes Bündchen made had a positive impact on her, her career and her family.
Bündchen explained in the AM interview that she changed her lifestyle drastically and virtually overnight. With the guidance of doctors, she changed her diet completely and began attending regular yoga and meditation classes. According to Bündchen, the culmination of the new diet and other measures helped her to all but kick the panic attacks once and for all.
Bündchen spoke at length, choking up at points, about the deep appreciation and love she feels for her husband. She spoke about how Brady remained calm and helped her. “He’s very calm and very centered, and I feel like I’m very emotional and very changeable,” she said. “What I learned from him is to kind of like, take a breath.”
For Bündchen, the most important thing is to move on in life and never to look back. She even spoke about how hard it was to write some of the things in her memoir as they brought back such bad memories. “The panic attacks were a very tough thing because I haven’t experienced anxiety since then when I changed my diet and started meditating,’ she explained.
Bündchen summed it up best when she concluded: “Either you learn through experiencing something or you learn vicariously through other people … I mean, now I’m 38 and looking back, and my perspective is so different, but at the time, you don’t have the maturity, you don’t have the experience.” Gisele Bündchen is an example of a person who learned from their mistakes and overcame unthinkable challenges thanks to honesty and some self-control.