Embracing Starvation (Shattered Image Book Excerpt #7)

CUBAN_BRIAN 003 4x6 72dpi fileThis is the seventh  excerpt of my book “Shattered Image” It is a book about childhood bullying and the effects it has on unhealthy self image,the choices we make to deal with it. For me it turned into Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Those choices were eating disorders, alcoholism, drug addiction and a suicide attempt. Most importantly, I talk about the eight steps I took to climb out of “the pit” to a confident, healthy self image and lifestyle. Release date is tentative for June 2013


I vividly remember the moments when I shifted into full anorexic starvation mode and then bulimia.  I was moving into my freshman dorm room at Behrend College in Erie, Pennsylvania.  It was just before the semester started.  I looked out my window at other students moving into or out of the dorm.   I locked eyes with a pretty, red-haired girl hanging out with her friends just outside my window.  As our eyes met, I smiled.  She pointed at me and said to her friends in what sounded like a thunderous boom, “He’s ugly!”  A derisive , humiliating group laugh emanated from her and her friends.

I was humiliated as those words resounded in my head.  The same words,  I had heard growing up.  He’s a fat pig.  He’s a dumb bunny.   I shut the window, closed the curtain, and shrank to my bed where I cried in shame. I wanted to go home. I wanted the quiet safety and isolation of my bedroom.  I quietly cried myself to sleep that night.   I woke up with a plan.   I would deny myself food until I reached an appropriate weight that would make me attractive, popular, and cool.  I was excited!  I was  amazed that it had never occurred to me before.  It was a simple easy thought process that seemed incredibly logical to me.   I would eat one meal a day, which would be a small salad with vinegar dressing and a zero-calorie TAB  for dinner.  I would skip breakfast and lunch, substituting water and many cans of TAB and a couple of packages of M & Ms from the vending machine to quell the hunger pains and growls of my protesting stomach.  My limited transportation  ensured that I had no way to get food other than what was available at the cafeteria and in the vending machines. My calorie intake was often less than 600 calories each day. I did not have either the maturity or the nutritional context to realize the strain it would inflict on my body. I would not have cared.

I began to exercise regularly for the first time in my life.  I walked late at night when weather permitted so no one would see me.  I began weighing myself obsessively at the campus infirmary.  I began to run short distances.  The more weight I lost, the more I realized that I had  iron fist control over what I could do with my body. The more weight I wanted to lose.  I had never felt as empowered over my destiny.  The feeling was like a drug.   Every weigh-in reflected substantial weight loss.  I was winning.  A strategy tailor made for my linear way of thinking.  One day to the next.  Don’t eat.. Don’t eat… Don’t eat.  No problem.

I soon realized that even the most focused of minds couldn’t sustain the body of a nineteen year old. I needed to eat.  Even with my body’s metabolic shift to compensate for the starvation, I was in a constant hunger mode.  This realization however, did not open my eyes to the fact that I needed a healthier diet.  I merely  looked for new tactics to change the imperfect image in the mirror that had been shattered over the years.  In my mind, I had started looking down, one step in front of the other on the journey to my unachievable goal.   I knew a small group of students  who had viable transportation.  I found my way into their group.  On the weekends,  we would go into town and bowl.   After we bowled, we went for something to eat at either Perkins Pancake House or the local buffet.  We were not the cool kids, but they were higher up the social food chain than I was. I was so desperate for acceptance that I was thrilled to be included into any group. Therefore, I became a part of the “Perkins Pancakes and buffet crew”  My  plan was to starve myself during the week and then gorge myself on the weekends.  I had discovered binge eating.  I also discovered the incredible guilt and depression that came after the binge and the realization that nothing had change about me.  I discovered purging to relieve that guilt.  I had now discovered bulimia.  The ride had begun.

*Shattered Image is on track to be released June-August 2013.  Please check back for more excerpts.  Please share with anyone you feel might be interested in this topic!




4 Comments For This Post

  1. Deidre Kellogg Says:

    Wow. Very compelling. Thank you for sharing such intimate, difficult details. I have also dealt with Body Dysmorphic Syndrome mostly in the form of anorexia, but I’ve been bulimic at times too. It is such a difficult illness to conquer. I was in professional ballet, which made anorexia a job requirement.

    I wish you well and look forward to reading the entire book.

  2. Anna Kay Says:

    Thank you for sharing, Brian. It means more than you know. I hope to someday be able to share my story, as well. Again, thank YOU!

  3. Marcia Says:

    I know this has to be very hard for you to write such a personal story, I hope in doing so it helps you see yourself better and I know it will help so many others who have gone through or are going through many of the same things. Good luck, Brian, you are a great guy.

  4. Christina (1 comments.) Says:

    Brian as I read your words so many resonated within my own memories of similar events. I still struggle with tapes that play in my head from time to time. Thank you for the courage to share your story.

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