Tag Archive | "eating disorders"

Eating Disorders: The Men’s Issue No One Talks About and Why That Has to Change

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Eating Disorders: The Men’s Issue No One Talks About and Why That Has to Change


brian_cuban.ashxMy 27-year journey struggling with anorexia and bulimia started when I was 18 years old and a freshman at Penn State University. At 45,  recovery finally began. I know now that I was lucky to survive, but sadly that’s not true for many. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychological disorder — a fact that doesn’t surprise me after nearly taking my own life at age 44. I could no longer take looking in the mirror and seeing the image of a “fat, stupid child” born of fat shaming at home and weight teasing and bullying in school. So much has changed since then.

Read the rest of my Op-ed on Greatist.com

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Why I Speak Out On Male Eating Disorders And Body Image

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Why I Speak Out On Male Eating Disorders And Body Image


Brian-Cuban-8193-1As a backdrop, I was anorexic, then bulimic for twenty-seven years.  I am the author of Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder.  Below are a few of the reasons I have chosen to “out myself’ and speak out on eating disorder awareness.

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Sadly, this is just a small sampling of the neanderthal attitudes on male eating disorders. It becomes a Catch-22 when these stereotypes and this type of stigma are the main reason so few men seek treatment and even fewer out themselves publicly. On the flip-side, I owe each of these individuals a debt of gratitude for  providing the platform to illustrate the issue.   The hard fact are that over 800k men have suffered from bulimia at some point in their lives. Over 10 million males will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their lives. We need more men to come forward. There is incredible acceptance from both men and women despite those stuck in the stone age.  Awareness happens one person at a time. Join me.

Brian Cuban

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PANTSED!-A Shattered Image Excerpt

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PANTSED!-A Shattered Image Excerpt


943226_10151634657043028_1943166013_n This is an excerpt of my book  “Shattered Image”.  Shattered Image is the story of my struggle with, and recovery from, a compulsive behavior clinically known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). That struggle has included recovery from bulimia, anorexia, alcoholism, and addiction to cocaine and steroids. I also suffer from clinical depression. For decades, I engaged in self-destructive behavior with the single goal of correcting a terribly distorted sense of self-image, a self-image rooted in early life experiences.  Release date is August 2013  See what people are saying about Shattered Image!   

When I was thirteen years old, I was “pantsed” by kids I thought were my friends. Or should I say, I was pantsed by kids who I was pretending were my friends in a vain attempt to feel accepted. It was the most humiliating experience of my young life. In reality, it was a physical assault.

While I was walking home from junior high with these classmates, they started making fun of my shiny gold pants my brother Mark had given me, commenting on how tight they were on my fat body. They started pulling at them. One kid yanked them down over my underwear and tore them off me. The rest joined in ripping them into rags that they threw into the street. I was laughed at and taunted about having to walk the mile home on a busy street in my underwear. Many drivers passed and gawked but no one stopped. I gathered up the remaining shreds that were lying on the pavement and tried cover myself up for the walk home—a cross country trek of shame. The message from my “friends” was loud and clear. I was not one of them. The last thing I remember hearing as I stood there in my underwear letting them build some distance from me was, “Hey Cuban, when you get some new pants, get a bra while you’re at it.”

What happened that day was not posted onto YouTube. No Facebook page was created. No one tweeted about it. There was no Facebook. There was no Internet. There was no such thing as cyber-bullying in 1974. It never went beyond the group involved and whomever they told to boast of their deeds. If bullying went “viral” it spread through the lunchroom and classroom. After the incident, kids would come up to me in the lunch line and ask me how I liked walking home in my underwear. I could feel the derisive looks and smirks. How did I handle it? I did not fight back as I had done in summer camp. Instead, I used my tried and true technique of self-deprecating humor and self-degradation. A coping skill I would take with me into adulthood. Ha, they really got me good didn’t they . . . Instead of fighting back or getting angry, it seemed easier to make fun of myself and try to be everyone’s friend, even if they continued to bully me.

I never stood up for myself so nothing happened. I could have fought back. I could have gone to my parents. I could have gone to the school. I did none of those things. Thinking back, the reasons that resonate over forty years later is that I was ashamed. I was ashamed of my body. I agreed with the kids who were humiliating me. I felt I should be humiliated by my inability to control my body. To “fix it.” What I saw in the mirror was a mass of grotesque imperfection, and the bullies had done me the favor of confirming that my thoughts about myself were accurate.

For some kids, the Episode of the Gold Pants might seem like a typical rite of passage, an act of mortification that they might even laugh about as adults. But for me the walk of shame and the public gossip that followed it altered the way I thought about myself for many long years. How is that possible? Why did this one act of bullying have such an outsized impact on my psyche? Bullying is a hot topic in the media now, with new book releases every season about the deleterious effects of bullying culture in the country. We all read reports in the news about children pushed to acts of self-harm by elaborately orchestrated bullying campaigns. The subject has been covered so extensively lately, that there’s even a sort of backlash: a few writers point out that some of what we label “bullying” is an inevitable part of the fabric of childhood and that over-diagnosing the problem is counterproductive.

What some of these conversations miss, however, is that all bullies and their victims are individuals with rich and complex personalities, not just generic social actors. To every experience, we all bring unique innate tendencies along with a network of past experiences. In my case, I already had an innate tendency toward obsessive behavior and shyness, a growing sense of social isolation in a new school environment, and—perhaps as significant as anything—a home life increasingly characterized by discord and verbal abuse from my mom. At school, I badly wanted to fit in, and I lived in constant fear that I’d hear from my peers words that echoed those I’d hear from my mother at home: We don’t accept fat pigs and dumb bunnies into our group.

 

 

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Man I Hated Camp-Shattered Image Excerpt

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Man I Hated Camp-Shattered Image Excerpt


Brian-Cuban-8193-1This is an excerpt of my book  “Shattered Image”.  Shattered Image is the story of my struggle with, and recovery from, a compulsive behavior clinically known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). That struggle has included recovery from bulimia, anorexia, alcoholism, and addiction to cocaine and steroids. I also suffer from clinical depression. For decades, I engaged in self-destructive behavior with the single goal of correcting a terribly distorted sense of self-image, a self-image rooted in early life experiences.  Release date is August 2013  See what people are saying about Shattered Image!   

Summer 1971. I’m at Emma Kaufman Camp near Morgantown, West Virginia. Emma Kaufman is a summer tradition for countless Jewish children from Pittsburgh, and it was a tradition in our family. My brothers went. I went. But that summer of ’71 stands out in my mind, marking some of the earliest memories I have of feelings I’d later associate with embarrassment and shame about how I appeared to others.

It is the night of the Emma Kaufman Camp annual talent show. I walk up to the front of the wooden stage. I sweat a little more with each creaking old wooden board echoing throughout the structure. I am suddenly facing 100 ten and eleven year olds. They are laughing and joking with each other. In my mind, they are laughing and making fun of me. I am terrified. I am nervous and nauseous. Teeth and braces grinding enamel. The musty smell of the wood building and the damp rain falling on the leaves outside intensify the feeling.

The Beatles hit, “Let It Be” is the song. There is no microphone. There is no music. I am standing naked and exposed in front of a hundred other kids. I remind myself that this was my choice. I chose to sing this song, nobody was making me, and I chose to sing because I wanted to take control of my fear. To cast aside uncertainty. To become popular. To be noticed. If I could sing “Let It Be,” my weight would not matter. My shyness would not matter. I hoped this would be no different from the piano recital. I handled those. I could handle this. Take a deep breath. Count to ten. Focus on a fixed point. In recitals it was the piano keys. I focused on the wooden floor in front of me. I was too terrified to look at the kids staring me down, talking and laughing. I opened my mouth.

The only sound that emerged was a guttural groan, such as a wounded animal might make.I started to sweat. Kids were laughing. Now I was sure they were laughing at me. I was humiliated—not much different than the humiliation of shyness and the shame of body that constantly gripped me, but this time the feeling was focused like a magnifying glass in the sunlight bearing down on a blade of grass.

Continuing to focus on the wooden floor, I walked off the stage and moved quickly through the door. I broke into a run back to my cabin. I cried. I knew that the worst was yet to come. My cabin mates would be back soon. Some were just waiting for the next excuse to ridicule me as if they were bored with calling me fat. Our cabin counselor would intervene and tell them to leave me alone, as he had done before. I wanted to go home. I couldn’t

My fellow campers filtered back into the cabin. One made his way straight for me as I lay on my bunk. “Not only are you fat but you sing like shit.” Still crying I jumped up and attacked him. I ran at him as hard as I could and used all of my 200 pounds to knock him back onto the bunk bed. I had stood up for myself. It felt good. He never bothered me again, but I was banned from the Camper vs. Counselor softball game, the one event where I felt I’d be comfortable around my peers.

The talent show was just the beginning of my embarrassments. At Emma Kaufman, I had a camp crush. I remember her smile, dark skin and long, dark flowing  black hair, almost Greek features,  as she stood on the porch of her camp cabin. I remember making any excuse I could to get within feet of her in various camp activities. I tried to befriend others who were her friends to be close to her. No matter how close I got, I was unable to say anything other than mumbling, barely audible  hellos as I looked at the ground. She sometimes smiled and hello back, but that was as far as we’d get. I finally remember her laughing derisively to the unwanted and embarrassing shout from my friend that I had a crush on her.

Man, I hated camp.

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