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EMILY GORDON, PsyD, Britnie DeMello’s therapist at the Klarman Center

“Britnie has a remarkable spirit. At times, she struggled with difficult emotions and strong urges to engage in her eating disorders, but she never gave up.”
“The staff, particularly Sarah, Rachael and Joanne, were always there for me. They made treatment, especially meal times, more enjoyable.”
  • BRITNIE DEMELLO, in recovery from eating disorders

Providing a new road to recovery

“I’ve always been insecure about my body,” says 19-year-old Britnie DeMello. “Even at age 5, I remember thinking that I was disgusting.”

In her early teens, Britnie began cycling between anorexia nervosa, a disorder marked by dramatic weight loss, and bulimia nervosa, characterized by bingeing and purging. To look and feel thin, she restricted what she ate, purged and abused laxatives.

While Britnie’s eating habits may have seemed peculiar to friends and family, they thought she was just a “picky eater.” When her laxative use spiraled out of control during her sophomore year of high school, she could no longer hide her secret and she was hospitalized for the first of many times.

In August 2003, after years of seeking lasting relief, Britnie turned to the newly opened Klarman Eating Disorders Center at McLean, a comprehensive program for girls and young women ages 13 to 22. In the program, Britnie, with the help of her therapists, learned to work through the emotions underlying her eating disorders and developed new coping skills, which she still employs.

Today, Britnie is regaining control of her life—she is working and attending college, majoring in psychology. She speaks of recovery from her eating disorders, rather than a cure. “I still have ups and downs but the worst is behind me,” she says with newfound confidence. “Being at McLean turned out to be the best thing for me.”

An estimated 7 million U.S. girls and young women struggle with an eating disorder. Research confirms that 51 percent of 9- and 10-year-old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet. The Klarman family of Chestnut Hill, Mass., has committed $2.5 million to establish the Klarman Eating Disorders Center. The Center’s comprehensive services are unique in the Northeast.