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Parents of 23-year-old who died of anorexia detail horrific realities of her eating disorder 

Parents of a 23-year-old girl who died of anorexia after starving herself for ‘half her life’ have detailed the horrific realities of her illness, admitting that she was ‘brilliant’ but ‘psychotic.’

Madeleine Billings, from Denver, Colorado, passed away in her sleep on December 30, 2021, after struggling for years with an eating disorder.

Now, her parents, Nick and Lisa, have shared the harrowing details of her final days, explaining to the Today show in a new interview that it felt like Maddie wasn’t ‘in there’ anymore.

‘She was brilliant. But in the end, she was psychotic. I mean, the conversations that I had with her the last week of her life, there was no Maddie there. It was all illness,’ Nick, 53, said.

Parents of a 23-year-old girl who died of anorexia after starving herself for ‘half her life’ have detailed the horrific realities of her illness, admitting that she was ‘brilliant’ but ‘psychotic’

Madeleine Billings (pictured in 2013), from Denver, Colorado, passed away in her sleep on December 30, 2021, after struggling for years with an eating disorder

Madeleine Billings (pictured in 2013), from Denver, Colorado, passed away in her sleep on December 30, 2021, after struggling for years with an eating disorder

Her parents, Nick and Lisa (pictured with Maddie in 2015), have shared the harrowing details of her final days, explaining to the Today show that it felt like Maddie wasn't 'in there' anymore

Her parents, Nick and Lisa (pictured with Maddie in 2015), have shared the harrowing details of her final days, explaining to the Today show that it felt like Maddie wasn’t ‘in there’ anymore

He explained that she was ‘obsessing’ about whether or not she had accidentally taken a sip of a normal Dr. Pepper instead of a diet drink.

‘That brain was obsessing about Dr. Pepper and whether or not she inadvertently taken a sip of regular versus diet. And what did that mean? I talked to her for hours over consecutive days about that topic,’ he continued.

Lisa, 54, added that although her daughter knew about the dangers of her condition, the ‘cruel and critical voices’ from the ‘eating disorder’ would always ‘creep back in.’ 

The parents said they first noticed something was wrong with Maddie when she was 13 years old.

She had gone on a trip to France with her grandparents where she met another teen girl who was suffering from an eating disorder, which her parents said made an impression on her. 

Lisa, 54, added that although her daughter (seen together when she was 10) knew about the dangers of her condition, the 'cruel and critical voices' would always 'creep back in'

Lisa, 54, added that although her daughter (seen together when she was 10) knew about the dangers of her condition, the ‘cruel and critical voices’ would always ‘creep back in’

The parents said they first noticed something was wrong with Maddie when she was 13 years old after she attended soccer camp. She is seen with friends in 2015

The parents said they first noticed something was wrong with Maddie when she was 13 years old after she attended soccer camp. She is seen with friends in 2016

The parents said they first noticed something was wrong with Maddie when she was 13 years old after she attended soccer camp. She is seen with friends in 2015 (left) and 2016 (right)

'By the time we picked her up from that, she had dropped so much [weight] that she just didn’t look like herself,' Lisa said

‘By the time we picked her up from that, she had dropped so much [weight] that she just didn’t look like herself,’ Lisa said

Then, the summer before eighth grade she went away to a soccer camp, and when she came home, Nick and Lisa said they saw a major difference in their daughter.

Her parents explained that they put her in therapy, and she got better. But as she entered high school, the eating disorder came back. She is pictured in 2013

Her parents explained that they put her in therapy, and she got better. But as she entered high school, the eating disorder came back. She is pictured in 2013

‘By the time we picked her up from that, she had dropped so much [weight] that she just didn’t look like herself,’ Lisa said.

Her parents explained that they put her in therapy, and she got better. But as she entered high school, the eating disorder came back.

‘It just started creeping back in and we watched it creep back. There was no denial around this disease at any point. We threw everything we had at it,’ her dad said.

On the outside, her mom and dad said Maddie seemed completely normal – she was an A-student, played field hockey and soccer, and looked ‘deceivingly healthy.’

But inside, it was a daily struggle. Nick remembered how stressful dinner time could be, with him and Lisa having to force Maddie to eat. 

On the outside, her mom and dad said Maddie (seen in 2014) seemed normal - she was an A-student, played field hockey and soccer, and looked 'deceivingly healthy'

On the outside, her mom and dad said Maddie (seen in 2015) seemed normal - she was an A-student, played field hockey and soccer, and looked 'deceivingly healthy'

On the outside, her mom and dad said Maddie (seen left in 2014 and right in 2015) seemed normal – she was an A-student, played field hockey and soccer, and looked ‘healthy’

But inside, it was a daily struggle. Nick (seen with Maddie and another family member in 2015) remembered how stressful dinner time could be, with them having to force Maddie to eat

But inside, it was a daily struggle. Nick (seen with Maddie and another family member in 2015) remembered how stressful dinner time could be, with them having to force Maddie to eat

At her lowest, Maddie (pictured with her siblings in 2015) dropped to 76 pounds, as her parents tried everything in their power to help her

At her lowest, Maddie (pictured with her siblings in 2015) dropped to 76 pounds, as her parents tried everything in their power to help her

On top of the eating disorder, she also suffered from anxiety. At her lowest, Maddie dropped to 76 pounds, as her parents tried everything in their power to help her.

Nick said, 'We had her in inpatient. We had her in outpatient. We had her in therapy. We had her on various medications. And it got worse.' Maddie is pictured as a baby

 Nick said, ‘We had her in inpatient. We had her in outpatient. We had her in therapy. We had her on various medications. And it got worse.’ Maddie is pictured as a baby

Nick said, ‘We had her in inpatient. We had her in outpatient. We had her in therapy. We had her on various medications. And it got worse. I know conventional treatment, I presume, works for some, but it didn’t work for her.’

When the pandemic hit in early 2020, her parents said Maddie – who was attending college at the University of Colorado after graduating from high school – got worse as she often complained about feeling alone.

During the last year of her life, her mom said Maddie ‘got much sicker,’ explaining that she would often faint when she stood up due to her heart rate being so low.

She said her gastrointestinal system had ‘shut down,’ and she was rushed to the hospital three different times.

During the last year of her life, her mom said Maddie (seen in 2015) 'got much sicker,' explaining she would often faint when she stood up and was rushed to the hospital three times

During the last year of her life, her mom said Maddie (seen in 2015) ‘got much sicker,’ explaining she would often faint when she stood up and was rushed to the hospital three times

Now, Nick and Lisa are speaking out about her condition in the hopes of warning other parents about the dangers of anorexia. 'This illness will kill you,' her dad said. Maddie is seen as a child

Now, Nick and Lisa are speaking out about her condition in the hopes of warning other parents about the dangers of anorexia. ‘This illness will kill you,’ her dad said. Maddie is seen as a child

‘It really [felt] like our child was dying in front of us,’ Nick recalled, with Lisa adding, ‘She was the super woman for so long, and then it was like the wheels came off and everything started going wrong… 

‘She was just physically a complete mess by the end.’ 

She was on a waiting list at a Denver eating disorder treatment center at the time of her death.

Now, Nick and Lisa are speaking out about her condition in the hopes of warning other parents about the dangers of anorexia.

‘If you’ve got a kid who’s really performing and you find meth, alarm bells go off and you do something. But if you have that same kid and they’re not finishing their meals, or they’re eating only certain things, you kind of push through that and say, “Oh, it’s not a big deal,”‘ Nick concluded. 

‘This illness will kill you. It isolates you, starves you and kills you.’

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