She says it all began with her first-ever episode, which started with a bumpy flight on a small plane in 2003. Before long, fighting anxiety became common for her, along with negative thoughts.
“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. Like, ‘Why should I be feeling this?’” she told People while discussing her new book, Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life. “I felt like I wasn’t allowed to feel bad. But I felt powerless. Your world becomes smaller and smaller, and you can’t breathe, which is the worst feeling I’ve ever had.”
According to the supermodel, the breaking point came when she started to experience panic attacks in her own home.
“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,’” she recalled.
She soon saw a doctor who prescribed an antidepressant, but the now-38-year-old couldn’t stand the idea of relying on drugs to get through her anxiety.
“The thought of being dependent on something felt, in my mind, even worse, because I was like, ‘What if I lose that [pill]? Then what? Am I going to die?’” she explained. “The only thing I knew was, I needed help.”
The first step to improving her well-being was ridding herself of a number of things that likely contributed to the problem, which she did overnight. She also embraced meditation and yoga.
“I had been smoking cigarettes, drinking a bottle of wine and three mocha Frappucinos every day, and I gave up everything in one day,” Bündchen said. “I thought, if this stuff is in any way the cause of this pain in my life, it’s gotta go.”
The swift lifestyle change also convinced her that she was “alone” in her pursuit of a more meaningful existence, which played a role in her breakup with Leonardo DiCaprio in 2005. However, she chooses to remember the Oscar winner fondly.
“Everyone who crosses our path is a teacher, they come into our lives to show us something about ourselves,” she stated. “And I think that’s what he was. What is good versus bad? I honor him for what he was.”