Madeleine Mae Billings, the oldest of four children, had the biggest heart and brain in the extended family. In the minefield of adolescent and young adult social circles, Maddie was the perennial Swiss, a member of all groups though exclusive to none. Everybody loved Maddie. Sadly her disease forbade her from seeing the light that others saw.
Maddie was born in Charlottesville, Virginia where Nick and Lisa took graduate degrees. She moved to Colorado at age two and attended Temple Emmanuel preschool, Cherry Hills Village Elementary, and ultimately graduated from Kent Denver School. At Kent, she took seven A.P. classes, even Physics, against the strong recommendation of her mom and dad. She helped win the state soccer championship twice, once with her little sister Emma. Maddie attended Dartmouth College for a too-short time as her illness kept her in the hospital more than the classroom or dormitory.
Maddie’s proudest achievement bar none was being a big sister. As the oldest of four, she was the binder, striving to bring everybody together. She tolerated and embraced Emma’s young obsession with baby dolls and a sewing machine! She stood on a chair and watched Pace play basketball in a close practice and through a gym door window during one of her many hospital passes. She co-mothered Cooper and smothered him with physical affection and positive feedback.
In her last month of life, Maddie began the enrollment process in a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins University (where Emma was in school) testing psilocbyin as a new intervention for treatment-resistant eating disorders. Maddie passed in her sleep on December 30, 2021 after a long and arduous struggle with her eating disorder. She was just 23.
For eleven years, and with good health insurance, Maddie pursued any and all treatment options for her eating disorder. She tried a pharmacopeia of psychoactive medications, including SSRIs, SNRIs, atypical antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers. She tried cognitive behavioral therapy, ACT, DBT, meditation, and mindfulness practices. She did group, individual, and family work. When put back to back, she spent over two years of her too-short life in five different highly-regarded inpatient eating disorder treatment centers in four states.
In the last year of her life, both Maddie and her family felt a desperation that was palpably different than the previous ten years. We had exhausted all conventional treatment, and Maddie was sicker than ever. In the months before she died, we investigated clinical trials at Johns Hopkins using psilocybin, coupled with intensive therapy, for treatment-resistant eating disorders.
A growing body of research suggests that psychedelic-assisted therapy (PAT) may be safe and effective for various mental health conditions. Very recent studies indicate that PAT may be a new tool for treatment-resistant eating disorders.
The current focus of the Fund is to support ongoing research on PAT and eating disorders and to fund treatment programs (where legally allowed) that use PAT to augment traditional treatment. At present, the Fund will investigate psilocybin, ketamine, and MDMA but only in conjunction with intensive psychotherapy and only in a clinical (not recreational) context for those who suffer from eating disorders.