Get ready for the perception you may have of supermodel Gisele Bündchen to be completely shattered. Most people probably think of her as the woman we’ve come to know — an in-charge supermodel, activist and businesswoman who has adorable children and a handsome football player husband. In other words, the seemingly perfect life.
But it wasn’t always that way, Bündchen, 38, reveals in a new memoir titled Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life, which is hitting book stores next week. In fact, her ascent to the top of the modeling industry and living life large was preceded years before by intense anxiety and thoughts of suicide. In the book, Bündchen reportedly opens up about her unremarkable childhood, a twin and one of six children, who grew up in in Horizontina, Brazil. Unremarkable, that is, until she was discovered by a modeling agent at the age of 14 while she was eating a Big Mac at a McDonald’s in Sao Paolo.
“Your nose is too big and your eyes are too small and you’re never going to be on the cover of a magazine,” she recalls having been told early on in her career. That turned out to be a dud of an assessment.
In the book, Bündchen writes, “It felt like everything in my life was going to kill me. First it was the airplanes, then elevators. Then it was tunnels and hotels and modeling studios and cars. Now it was my own apartment. Everything had become a cage, and I was the animal trapped inside, panting for air. I couldn’t see a way out, and I couldn’t stand another day of feeling this way.”
During the early stages of her career, Bündchen contemplated ending her life. Anxiety metastasized into panic attacks, which only got worse and worse, despite her career kicking into high gear. Once, while she was at home, a panic attack struck and the solution seemed to be killing herself. “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.’”
“When I think back on that moment, and that 23-year-old girl, I want to cry,” she shares in the book. “I want to tell her that everything will be all right, that she hasn’t even begun to live her life. But in that moment, the only answer seemed to be to jump.”
“Things can be looking perfect on the outside, but you have no idea what’s really going on,” Bündchen said in an interview with 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.”
Read the full story at PEOPLE.
If you or anyone you know needs help, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)