The supermodel gets very personal in her new memoir, Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life

By Charlotte Triggs and Colleen Kratofil
October 02, 2018 04:13 PM

Gisele Bündchen has built a good life – and worked hard for her success. She’s been dubbed the world’s most famous supermodel for her illustrious fashion career. She’s married to one of the highest-paid athletes and has two healthy children, son Benjamin, 8 and daughter Vivian 5. But in her new memoir, Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life (out today), Bündchen opens up about past demons and the not-so-glamorous side of herself that the public has never seen before.

“Things can be looking perfect on the outside, but you have no idea what’s really going on,” the 38-year-old model recently 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.”

In the book, Bündchen discusses her ongoing battle with anxiety, why she regrets her plastic surgery procedures and many more candid accounts. We’ve rounded up some of the most surprising below.

On Contemplating Suicide

After a bumpy flight on a small plane in 2003 left her shaken, Bündchen reveals she developed a fear of tunnels, elevators and other enclosed spaces, that developed into serious 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. Like, ‘Why should I be feeling this?’ I felt like I wasn’t allowed to feel bad,” she told PEOPLE. “But I felt powerless. Your world becomes smaller and smaller, and you can’t breathe, which is the worst feeling I’ve ever had.”

She revealed on Good Morning America Tuesday that she was so scared of enclosed spaces that she would walk up the nine flights of stairs to her apartment rather than use an elevator and actually contemplated jumping from her balcony at one point.

“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 told PEOPLE.

Nino Muñoz

On Regretting Her Breast Augmentation Surgery

She’s been dubbed “the boobs from Brazil,” but she realized after spending 18 months breastfeeding her two children that her breasts became smaller and slightly uneven, so she decided to undergo a breast augmentation in 2015.

“I was always praised for my body, and I felt like people had expectations from me that I couldn’t deliver,” Bündchen told PEOPLE. “I felt very vulnerable, because I can work out, I can eat healthy, but I can’t change the fact that both of my kids enjoyed the left boob more than the right. All I wanted was for them to be even and for people to stop commenting on it.”

However, as soon as she go the procedure, she immediately regretted it. “When I woke up, I was like, ‘What have I done?’ I felt like I was living in a body I didn’t recognize,” she said. “For the first year I wore [baggy] clothes because I felt uncomfortable.”

On Overcoming Panic Attacks

After being prescribed Xanax, she realized that she didn’t want to rely on anxiety medication so she began readjusting major aspects of her lifestyle. She revealed that in one day she cut out smoking, drinking “a bottle of wine a day” and sugary drinks, and began doing yoga and meditation instead. “I thought, if this stuff is in any way the cause of this pain in my life, it’s gotta go.”

Difficulties Adjusting to Motherhood

Bündchen always knew she wanted kids with her husband, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, 41, but she had a hard time adjusting to motherhood at first.

After marrying New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, 41, in 2009, Bündchen welcomed their son Benjamin (now 8) that same year, and daughter Vivian (now 5) three years later. (Bündchen is also close with Jack, 11, Brady’s son with actress Bridget Moynahan, whom she calls her “bonus child.”)

“When I became a mom, I kind of lost myself. It was like a part of me died,” she told PEOPLE. “I’d been this very independent person. It was all about me. But now I had this little being, and I suddenly felt l couldn’t do other things and that was very hard for me. All I ever wanted was to be a mom, but when you’re actually experiencing that, it’s a shock.”

She began staying close to home, but still felt guilty when she had to be apart from her children. “I had all this horrible, self-imposed guilt. I thought what a terrible mother I was for leaving my child even for like a day,” she said. Then when she tried to travel with her kids, which also made her feel guilty. “Like, ‘Here we are on a plane and the baby is crying.'”

RELATED VIDEO: Gisele Bündchen Is Writing a Book About Modeling, Marriage and Leading a ‘Meaningful Life’

On Overcoming Rough Patches in Her Marriage

Her struggle with adjusting to motherhood also affected her marriage to Brady. She took on most of the childcare responsibilities while Brady trained and revealed: “You’re overwhelmed and tired and then you’re not the nicest partner.”

Bündchen told PEOPLE that she and Brady have had disagreements over his decision not to retire, and also faced a trying time in their relationship during 2015’s Deflategate scandal, when Brady was suspended while NFL officials investigated allegations that he cheated by playing with under-inflated footballs.

“When someone you love is happy, it makes you happy, or if they’re sad it makes you sad,” she says. “You suffer with them and you have joy with them.”

Order Bündchen’s new book, Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life, now. All proceeds will be donated to Projeto Agua Limpa, a Brazil-based nonprofit organization committed to protecting water sources and sustainability.