Madeleine Billings: A young woman’s brutal death from an eating disorder

The family spoke of a violent disorder that caused a normal young woman to become “psychotic” in the days before her death.

“The only thing this eating disorder wants is to give you a tombstone.”

This is what therapist Madeleine Billings told her years before this prophecy came true.

Maddie, who was adored by friends and family when she lived in Denver, Colorado, died in her sleep just after Christmas last year. She was 23 years old.

Her family has only just begun to share chilling details about how the “brilliant” young woman became “psychotic” in her last weeks of life as the illness took hold of her body and brain and refused to let go.

They described how anorexia asserted her personality to the point that “Maddie wasn’t there.”

“She was brilliant. But at the end of the day, she was a psychopath,” she said. Father Nick said Today in the US last week.

“I mean, in the conversations I had with her in the last week of her life, Maddie wasn’t there. It’s all sickness.

“This brain was obsessed with Dr. Pepper and whether she accidentally took a sip of her regular diet or not. And what does it mean? I talked to her for hours on end for days on end on this subject.”

Maddie’s mom Lisa, a clinical psychologist, said something similar.

“The voices, the thoughts about the eating disorder that she would have that were so violent and critical of her, were so strong that all the behavior came back and she couldn’t do it,” she said.

“It made me incredibly panic.”

The parents, who made the difficult decision after Maddie’s death to include her death in their obituary, spoke about the moment that changed their daughter’s life forever.

According to them, she was vacationing in France as a teenager when she met and spent time with a teenage girl who had an eating disorder.

Casual comments about Maddie’s healthy appetite grew louder in the 8th grader’s mind, and her condition worsened. It snowballed from there.

That same year, Maddie went to football camp, and her mother remembers how different she was when she got home.

“By the time we got her out of there, she had lost so much weight (weight) that she just didn’t look like herself,” Lisa said.

At some point shortly thereafter, Maddie dropped to 34 kilograms despite treatment that included inpatient and outpatient care, therapy, and medication.

Despite all this, the teenager excelled in school and entered the prestigious Dartmouth College.

On social media, she posted photos of happy moments with friends and family members.

To the outside world, she seemed like a perfectly normal young woman.

But she fought. During meals, Lisa made sure Maddie was getting the nutrients she needed. But over time, the disease became too strong.

In her obituary, the family wrote: “Madeleine Mae Billings of Denver passed away in her sleep on December 30, 2021 after a long and difficult battle with an incurable eating disorder. She was only 23 years old.”

They described her as having “the biggest heart and brain in a big family.”

“In the minefield of social circles of teenagers and young people, Maddie was the eternal Swiss, a member of all groups, but not excluding any of them. Everyone loved Maddie. Unfortunately, her illness prevented her from seeing the shining light that everyone else saw.”

The family wrote that at Dartmouth, illness “kept her in the hospital more than in class”.

She returned home to study closer to her family, especially her siblings, whom she adored.

“Maddie’s greatest accomplishment, apart from all the others, was being a big sister,” her obituary reads.

“She stood on a chair and watched Pace, now 19, play basketball through the window gym during one of his many hospitalizations.

“She was the mother of Cooper, now 16, and smothered him with physical affection and positive feedback.”

The family said that after exhausting “all conventional treatments”, Maddie signed up for a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins University for “treatment-resistant eating disorders”.

She died a week later.

The family established the Maddie May Foundation in her honor.

Originally published as Madeleine Billings’ family details how anorexia stole her identity and then her life