Tallulah Willis is opening herself up like never before in a candid essay she’s written for Vogue.
In her essay, Willis shares the experience of growing up as the child of two of the world’s most famous movie stars, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore.
She begins by recounting how she was 11 when she first came across online criticism, which she found devastating. Believing that her family had been shielding her from these harsh “truths,” she kept her self-loathing to herself. “I just lived with the silent certainty of my own ugliness,” she wrote.
Willis continues by recalling entering psychiatric treatment when she was 20 — and then reading all the particulars in the Daily Mail.
“For the last four years, I have suffered from anorexia nervosa, which I’ve been reluctant to talk about because, after getting sober at age 20, restricting food has felt like the last vice that I got to hold on to,” she writes.
“When I was 25, I was admitted to a residential treatment facility in Malibu to address the depression that I had lived with through my adolescence. It was a largely therapeutic experience; for the first time, I grieved the 15-year-old misfit me, the ugly duckling. I was also diagnosed with ADHD and started on stimulant medication, which was transformative,” she adds. “I felt smart for the first time, but I also started to enjoy the appetite-suppressant side effect of the meds.”
At the same time she was struggling with body dysmorphia, her father was struggling with frontotemporal dementia, which she describes as “a progressive neurological disorder that chips away at his cognition and behaviour day by day.”
Her eating disorder hit its lowest point last year. “By the spring of 2022, I weighed about 84 pounds,” she reveals. “I was always freezing. I was calling mobile IV teams to come to my house, and I couldn’t walk in my Los Angeles neighborhood because I was afraid of not having a place to sit down and catch my breath.”
She wound up in treatment, where she “was given a new diagnosis: Borderline Personality Disorder, an illness that impairs the ability to regulate emotions and find stability in relationships.”
“Most of my clothes are too small now,” she writes, adding, “Recovery is probably lifelong, but I now have the tools to be present in all facets of my life, and especially in my relationship with my dad. I can bring him an energy that’s bright and sunny, no matter where I’ve been. In the past I was so afraid of being destroyed by sadness, but finally I feel that I can show up and be relied upon. I can savour that time, hold my dad’s hand, and feel that it’s wonderful. I know that trials are looming, that this is the beginning of grief, but that whole thing about loving yourself before you can love somebody else — it’s real.”
At the moment, she continues to treasure every moment she spends with her father.
“Every time I go to my dad’s house, I take tons of photos — of whatever I see, the state of things,” she writes. “I’m like an archaeologist, searching for treasure in stuff that I never used to pay much attention to. I have every voicemail from him saved on a hard drive. I find that I’m trying to document, to build a record for the day when he isn’t there to remind me of him and of us.”