Anxiety is not a life sentence - it may even hold some unexpected positive effects, as model Gisele Bündchen reveals
Anxiety is one of the world’s most common mental health disorders, and it can be a dark and crippling force for anyone who’s unlucky enough to cross paths with it.
But those who do learn how to manage it, rather than magically make it disappear.
And in doing so, it helps to think of anxiety not just as a static and universally “bad” condition, but rather something that is forever in flux. What’s more, it can even come with some unexpected positives.
And it’s important to remember these silver linings now and again, rather than get lost in a vortex of worry (which, as someone who suffers from anxiety, you will be prone to do anyway).
And so it is for Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen, who has revealed that she suffered from debilitating panic attacks and suicidal thoughts early in her career.
“I didn’t feel like I could share my panic attacks with anyone,” Bündchen tells PORTER magazine in a new interview. “So I’d suppress it, and the more I suppressed it, the bigger it became.”
It was when she was aged 23, and at the height of her fame, that Bündchen felt increasingly “trapped”, she says: “I couldn’t see a way out”.
Plagued by invasive thoughts, she finally realised that a change was desperately needed. And so, as is often the case with others who seek help, she decided to overhaul her life in pursuit of happier habits.
On the advice of doctors, Bündchen quit smoking, cut back on caffeine and alcohol, and took up yoga. These changes put her out of step with her on-off boyfriend of the time, Leonardo DiCaprio, and as a result - after a six-year relationship - she parted ways with him, too.
“No longer numbing myself with smoking, drinking and too much work, I was becoming more and more aware of things that I’d chosen not to look at,” she says.
“Was I alone in wanting to do some serious soul-searching while he [DiCaprio] stayed the same? In the end, unfortunately, the answer was yes.”
Bündchen broke up with DiCaprio, and later started dating her now-husband NFL player Tom Brady (above), with whom she has two children.
Her experience doesn’t mean that yoga and not drinking is somehow a magical cure for anxiety.
But it is an apt reminder that even at the darkest points in life, it’s possible to find a way forwards. And taking on such a battle, along with finding the right people to support you in it, is often the catalyst for dramatic and positive life changes.
Do you suffer from anxiety? Seek confidential help and support at Mind
Read more from the interview at PORTER magazine