Tallulah Willis has opened up about her family’s initial dismissal of the early signs of her father Bruce Willis’ dementia diagnosis.
In an essay for Vogue, Tallulah, 29, revealed, “I’ve known that something was wrong for a long time.” She described the initial signs as a “vague unresponsiveness,” which the family attributed to Bruce’s Hollywood hearing loss, a result of his work in the “Die Hard” film series.
As time went on, Bruce’s unresponsiveness became more apparent, and Tallulah mistakenly took it personally. She confessed, “I thought he’d lost interest in me,” especially after he had two babies with her stepmother, Emma Heming Willis. She admitted that her adolescent brain tortured itself, questioning her worthiness and desirability.
Tallulah shared that she avoided acknowledging her father’s declining health and was in denial, a fact she now admits she is not proud of. She explained that her own struggles with anorexia nervosa made it difficult for her to handle the situation. Restricting food became a vice she held onto after becoming sober at the age of 20. She also dealt with depression and was later diagnosed with ADHD.
While she was preoccupied with her body dysmorphia and showcasing it on social media, Bruce quietly battled his own struggles. Cognitive testing was being conducted, but there was no official diagnosis yet. Tallulah acknowledged, “I had managed to give my central dad-feeling canal an epidural,” emphasizing her emotional numbness during that time.
The realization that her father would never give a speech about her at her wedding hit her hard. She vividly remembers stepping outside and breaking down in tears. However, her focus remained on her body, and her weight dropped to about 84 pounds. She constantly felt cold and relied on mobile IV teams to visit her home. The fear of not having a place to sit down and catch her breath prevented her from walking in her Los Angeles neighborhood.
Tallulah reflected on her recovery process, expressing gratitude that she can now be present in her relationship with Bruce. She has found the strength to show up for him, bringing an energy that is bright and sunny. While she recognizes the challenges that lie ahead and the beginning of grief, she emphasizes the importance of loving oneself before loving someone else.
She cherishes every moment she has with her father and has become an avid documenter, capturing photographs of their time together. Voicemails from Bruce are saved on a hard drive, serving as a record of their bond.
Despite the changes she witnesses in her newborn niece and her father’s unpredictable condition, Tallulah remains grateful for the time she has left with her loved ones. She acknowledges the evolving nature of life and the need to treasure each precious moment.