Tallulah Willis recently shared her emotional journey of coping with her father Bruce Willis's dementia in a personal essay published in Vogue. She revealed that initially, she was “too sick myself to handle it,” referring to her own struggles with body image issues and eating disorders. Tallulah admitted that she initially responded to Bruce's decline with avoidance and denial, which she now regrets.
Bruce Willis was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a neurological disorder affecting cognition and speech. Tallulah expressed that she had sensed something was wrong for a long time, as Bruce exhibited unresponsiveness that gradually worsened. She also reflected on her own insecurities, believing that her father had lost interest in her due to her perceived lack of beauty and interest.
Tallulah shared her own battles with body dysmorphia and anorexia nervosa, which she had been reluctant to discuss openly. She revealed that she found comfort in restricting food as a way to cope with her insecurities and as the last vice she held onto after getting sober. Concerns grew among her friends and family as she continued to lose weight.
While Tallulah was consumed by her own body image issues, her father was silently struggling with his cognitive decline. Various cognitive tests were conducted, although an official acronym for his condition had not yet been determined. Tallulah expressed regret for not noticing her father's difficulties earlier and acknowledged the unique way in which he approached parenting compared to her mother and sisters.
In a poignant moment at a friend's wedding, Tallulah realized the impact of her father's health issues on her own life and future. This realization prompted her to seek recovery and treatment for her disorders. She was later diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, further highlighting the challenges she faced in regulating her emotions and maintaining stability in relationships.
Tallulah emphasized her commitment to recovery and the tools she now possesses to be present in her life, particularly in her relationship with her father. Despite the trials and impending grief, she cherishes the moments she spends with him and aims to bring him joy and a sense of reliability. Tallulah documents their time together and finds solace in the fact that her father still recognizes her and brightens up when she enters the room.
She expressed her hopes for her father's well-being and the difficulties of reconciling the present and the past in her discussions about Bruce. Tallulah recognized her father's influence in her own personality and wished for more time to develop a deeper friendship with him. She acknowledged the challenges of growing up in a famous family but expressed gratitude for standing in the light and being present for the unique and special moments in her family, including the recent birth of her niece.
Tallulah's essay concludes with her appreciation for being able to support her family during this transformative time and her commitment to being there for her father despite the unpredictable nature of his condition.