Attorney Brian Cuban’s first trip to a psychiatric facility was in 2005, when he was on the verge of suicide with a weapon on his nightstand. His brothers dragged him away kicking and screaming. His second trip was after a drug- and alcohol-induced black-out that lasted about two days. His girlfriend, now wife, took him back to the facility.
“It was at that point when I realized if I didn’t seek some help, there wouldn’t be a third trip back to that facility, because I’d be dead,” said Cuban. “I was also concerned that I’d lose my family in terms of their willingness to have me around.”
Cuban’s family includes older brother Mark Cuban (owner of the Dallas Mavericks and panelist of ABC’s Shark Tank), and younger brother Jeff Cuban.
Brian Cuban will discuss these stories and more at the Third Annual No Shame on U event on Sunday, November 5 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Skokie. No Shame on U is a non-profit organization that was founded by Highland Park native Miriam Ament to alleviate the misconceptions associated with mental health issues.
Cuban has written two books. He self-published his first book, Shattered Image: My Triumph over Body Dysmorphic Disorder, about three-and a-half-years-ago. Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a psychological disorder in which a person becomes obsessed with imaginary defects in their appearance, which he believes was the key to the rest of his issues.
Cuban recently wrote The Addicted Lawyer, which was published by Post Hill Press on June 13, 2017.
Cuban is in recovery for drugs, alcohol and an eating disorder. He noticed that a lot of lawyers were struggling with the same issues that he had. His addiction to alcohol began while he was in law school, and he thought it was an important subject to address. He spoke to other lawyers and law students and sought advice from people who were considered experts in the field, and The Addicted Lawyer was born.
“Ironically, while I was writing the book, a study came out from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association stating that there was an incredibly high rate of problem drinking within the legal profession,” said Cuban. According to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation study, “one in three licensed attorneys are problem drinkers.”
Cuban added that the book was unintentionally timely when it came out in June.
Cuban believes the legal profession tends to attract “Type A” personalities, and it’s also a profession where being vulnerable, which is essential to recovery, is discouraged. “So you put those two things together and you have lawyers who are more easily triggered into drinking as a means of dealing with stress, and a profession that is resistant to seeking help,” he said. “It’s a bad combination.”
Cuban was involved in general practice law and also worked for his brother Mark, but eventually his addictions took his legal career to the point where he had no clients left.
After his second trip to the psychiatric facility, on April 8, 2007, he walked into a 12-step program and began his recovery journey, which has continued for more than 10 years.
Cuban experienced a lot of fat-shaming growing up. “I was bullied and I really started to look into the mirror and see this huge monster,” he said. “I was a chubby kid and I saw this big stomach and I wrestled with all of these behaviors.” Cuban felt too ashamed to share these feelings with anyone.
“You get very good at putting on the mask you need to wear, so people think you’re just a ‘normal’ part of the crowd,” he said.
Years later he learned there was a family cycle of fat-shaming. His mom fat-shamed him; she was fat-shamed by her mother and her mother was fat-shamed by his great-grandmother.
“I don’t blame my mother,” said Cuban. “Parents don’t cause eating disorders or addiction. It is unknown what causes disorders and addictions, but bullying and fat shaming do correlate with them.”
Cuban said he had issues with more than drugs and alcohol. He was also addicted to steroids, and he briefly inflicted self-harm by punching himself in the face until he was black and blue.
“I had to punish myself for doing something silly or stupid like looking in the mirror and not loving what I saw,” he said. Although in retrospect this seems like childish behavior, Cuban explained that he punched himself when he was in his 20s.
After he moved to Dallas when he was 25, he missed an exit on the highway and started punching himself in the face while he was driving. Fortunately, he just swerved and didn’t get into a car accident.
About four or five years ago, Cuban finally began talking about his experiences, and he received emails from people who punched themselves in the face as a form of self-harm. “In my mind self-harm was something where you had to leave a permanent mark like in cutting or burning,” he said.
Cuban speaks at many events and writes and blogs. “It’s very gratifying when people say I’ve helped to empower them to take the first step, and it helps me in my recovery,” he said. “If I can reach one person in the crowd it’s a homerun for me.”
Cuban is happy to be sharing his story at the No Shame on U event, where he will discuss his addiction and redemption. He’s Jewish and he’ll talk about how some concepts have helped with his recovery.
“The phrase Tikkun Olam means to repair the world, and I will be talking about how I had to repair myself within the mental health realm,” he said. “L’Dor V’Dor is another concept, which means from generation to generation, which is very important for families and people to pass the concepts down, so recovery takes hold.”
Cuban is very close with his family and is grateful for their support.
“We all grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and it’s no accident that decades later, 1,200 miles away, my father, Jeff, Mark and I all live walking distance from each other in Texas,” he said. Cuban’s mother still lives in the house they grew up in.
His father was the middle child of three boys and he instilled that family bond in all of the Cuban boys. “Those strong core family values were instrumental in my recovery,” said Cuban. “No matter how bad things are, recovery is always possible and there’s no better time to start than today. Talking is healing.”
No Shame on U with Brian Cuban will be held on Sunday, November 5 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 9599 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie. For more information visit: WWW.NSOU2017.EVENTBRITE.COM