Young Woman Finds Health, Happiness Thanks to McLean
Twenty-four-year-old Meaghan Finn understands “that if you take care of your body, it will take care of you.” But it wasn’t always that way. Just six months ago, Meaghan, at 5'7", weighed only 97 pounds, barely 70 percent of her ideal body weight.
Meaghan has struggled with weight and food issues for years; as a sophomore in high school, she lost 20 pounds in two and a half months. Although she and her family had an inkling something was wrong, it was not until she moved to Boston after college that Meaghan fully realized her “serious control issues around food. I would only eat certain foods at certain times of the day and would never stray beyond that,” she says.
Meaghan knew she needed to address her anorexia and admitted herself to the Klarman Eating Disorders Center, a residential treatment program at McLean. There, she got an “intense reality check. I remember one girl telling me I was so thin I looked like I could die. I didn’t sleep that night,” she recalls.
In her first week at the center, Meaghan was also diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), an illness that often co-exists with eating disorders. With her OCD diagnosis came the realization that her disordered eating went deeper than she thought. “I finally recognized that getting my health back wasn’t something I could do on my own,” she says.
With the support of the center’s highly skilled and compassionate staff, Meaghan worked through many aspects of her illness. Although every stage of treatment—from visiting the hospital cafeteria for the first time to going out on a “pass” with friends—brought feelings of anxiety, Meaghan found strength and comfort in the coping strategies she was learning.
She also benefited from the center’s cognitive behavioral treatment approach. In a body-image group, for example, Meaghan and the other girls perused magazines, ripping out and crumpling up pictures of excessively thin, airbrushed models. “All you could hear in the room was ‘rip, rip, rip,’” she recalls. “By the end of the group, the whole room was full of crumpled-up paper balls. The therapist told us that whenever we have negative thoughts about our bodies, we are supposed to remember that pile of paper.”
Groups like these taught Meaghan to develop an appreciation for her body and for what is good about herself as a person. “Now, when I look in the mirror, I don’t stare at one spot on my body. I see my whole self.”
Today, Meaghan is at a healthy body weight and feeling “great,” she says. “I don’t think so much about what I should or shouldn’t eat anymore. I’m too busy living.”
“Now, when I look in the mirror, I don’t stare at one spot on my body. I see my whole self.”
After Being In Many Treatment Settings
"The Klarman Center at McLean is a really good mix of individual therapy, family therapy and group therapy. It is the only place I have been in treatment for my eating disorder where the focus is not just on my behaviors, but on the whole person."