Tragic Details About Tallulah Willis

The following article contains references to disordered eating, substance abuse, and emotional and psychological abuse.

Demi Moore and Bruce Willis were a beloved Hollywood couple from the time they tied the knot in 1987 until their 1998 split and subsequent divorce in 2000. During their 11 years together, they welcomed three daughters into the world: Rumer, Scout, and Tallulah. After their divorce, the movie stars continued to successfully co-parent and show support for each other. While Rumer followed in her parents' footsteps, embarking on her own acting career, and Scout fell in love with art, activism, and music, the baby of the family had a harder time getting on her feet.

Tallulah Willis was born at the peak of her mom and dad's fame in 1994 — although she was blissfully unaware of just how famous her family. Instead of growing up in Hollywood, she and her sisters were raised on a ranch in Idaho. Unfortunately, though, she struggled with her self-image and began coping in unhealthy ways that would eventually land her in rehab.

From her first unfortunate encounter with internet trolls to her mental health diagnosis, these are the tragic details about Tallulah Willis' life.

Tallulah Willis dealt with harsh comments as a child

Like many teens who are bullied at school or compare themselves to societal beauty standards, Tallulah Willis unfortunately developed an insecurity about her looks from a young age. However, the issues with her self-esteem really started when she stumbled across some truly cruel comments about herself online at the age of 13.

In 2015, Willis spoke with Teen Vogue about the incident in which she looked at a photo of herself on the internet, saying, "I broke down in tears as I started to read the comments. I thought, 'I am a hideous, disgusting-looking person. I might be nice and I might be kind, but I'm a really unattractive human being.' ... I became my own worst critic." This would have been around the time people began using the internet to tear down celebrities and nothing was off limits, long before the long-term damage of cyberbullying was known.

Willis penned an article for Vogue in May 2023 where she again recalled reading the online comments and how deeply they impacted her. "'Wow, she looks deformed. Look at her man jaw — she's like an ugly version of her dad. Her mother must be so disappointed.' ... I sat reading for two hours, believing that I had stumbled onto a truth about myself that no one had told me," she wrote. At 13, Willis was diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder, and she would tragically later develop an eating disorder.

She had depression throughout her adolescence

Tallulah Willis spent many of her teen years trying to figure out what would make her feel happy. She changed her hair, lost weight, got piercings, dressed differently, posted photos on social media, and took to using alcohol and drugs to cope, but nothing helped.

Speaking with Teen Vogue in 2015, Willis explained the low point that led her to seek help. She remarked, "In college the depression became overwhelming. I didn't sleep or want to talk to anyone, nothing seemed to have a point, the world lost its color, and food lost its taste. I was so removed from my body and from my mind that it was like I was living in a cardboard replica of what life should be." Her older sister Scout pointed out her concerns and helped Tallulah realize that she had to face her issues with depression and substance use. However, it wasn't until she was 25 that Tallulah sought treatment for depression.

"It was a largely therapeutic experience; for the first time, I grieved the 15-year-old misfit me, the ugly duckling," Tallulah wrote for Vogue in 2023.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

She revealed she was abused by a caretaker

It can take time for victims of abuse to come forward with their stories, as was the case with Tallulah Willis. In February 2021, she bravely published an Instagram post detailing the trauma she said she'd experienced between the ages of 18 and 20. She wrote that an unnamed caretaker, whom she had known since elementary school, was paid to look after her but instead inflicted psychological and emotional turmoil for two years. 

"At 18, I deferred my acceptance to Boston University. It was then that this person, who I can now understand was a sociopath, directed me to live with her. Without protest (I didn't know I had a say), I moved in," she wrote in the since-deleted post (via Daily Mail).

Willis explained that her abuser had gained control over all of her communication with the outside world by changing her phone number and hiding mail from her. She was also allegedly told by this person that nobody cared about her and she was gaslit about her mental health conditions, — and all for "job security and an unlimited credit card," Willis detailed. Willis continued, writing, "It is continually unfathomable to me that someone could do that to a child, who was in so much pain already, who only wanted love, safety and a space to heal, and could see them as nothing more as a means to an end." Willis, who later deleted the post shortly after sharing it, hasn't spoken about the incident publicly since.

Tallulah Willis didn't speak with her mother for nearly three years

It was around 2012 that A-lister Demi Moore's relationship with her daughter Tallulah Willis suffered, leading the two to become estranged for years. The tension began when the "Ghost" actor married Ashton Kutcher in 2005, and she "went into contortions to try to fit the mold of the woman he wanted his wife to be," Moore wrote in her memoir, "Inside Out." Although Moore had previously been sober for decades, she began drinking after having a miscarriage.

In 2019, the actor and her daughters spoke on "Red Table Talk" (11:45), where Willis recalled how she felt when her mom was drinking. "It was like the sun went down and like a monster came. I remember there's just the anxiety that would come up in my body when I could sense her eyes shutting a little bit more, the way she was speaking. Or she would be a lot more affectionate with me if she wasn't sober," she said.

Thankfully, Moore managed to repair her relationship with her daughters over the years and focus on her sobriety again. On Mother's Day 2020, Willis shared a snap of herself with her mother on Instagram with the caption: "I didn't talk to my mom for almost 3 years and during that shattered time this day would transport me from fragmented pieces to absolute dust. ... Through a metamorphosis of inward self reflection and a malleability to forgive, 3 years did not stretch to forever."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Tallulah Willis 'almost died from alcohol poisoning'

Like her mom, Tallulah Willis struggled with substance use disorder and it took her several years before she eventually sought treatment. While on "Red Table Talk," Willis admitted that she had her first alcoholic drink at 14 years old while on a family vacation, and it was a seemingly harmless experience. However, the following year, she drank so much vodka that she "almost died from alcohol poisoning." Willis continued, saying, "Things were very painful. That's when I began to drink heavily."

Her sister Rumer added that when Tallulah was staying with her, she noticed several wine bottles by her sister's bed and that her medicine had being going missing. By the time Tallulah was 17, she had been arrested for underage drinking. At the age of 20, she entered an Arizona-based treatment program for cocaine and alcohol abuse.

In January 2022, Tallulah revealed that she had been sober for nearly eight years and described how far she'd come in a raw and honest Instagram post. "I pivoted from anything and everything I had known as familiar, against pillars holding up the essential framework of my idea of life," she wrote. "To stare down a path of the absolute unknown, making an irrevocable proclamation about who I was and what I was saying goodbye to, was the most singular and brave moment of my life."

She developed an eating disorder

While Tallulah Willis was in a treatment facility for depression, she was also diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). She was given a prescription a stimulant, a treatment Willis described as "transformative" in her 2023 Vogue article. "I felt smart for the first time," she explained. However, there was a downside. "I also started to enjoy the appetite-​suppressant side effect of the meds," Willis said. "I saw a way to banish the awkward adolescent in favor of a flighty little pixie."

As she began to lose weight, Willis revealed that those around her were initially impressed. Before long, though, that quickly transformed into concern. "My friends and family were terrified, and I dismissed it. They'd say, 'Is this the ADHD medication?' I was very protective of my medication, and I rationalized it by telling myself that it was helping me to focus, which in turn was helping me to build a life outside of how I looked," she said. Sadly, Willis was in the throes of her eating disorder. 

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who does, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Her fiancé broke up with her

In May 2021, Tallulah Willis' then-boyfriend, filmmaker Dillon Buss, popped the question. Willis' massive engagement ring made an appearance in series of Instagram posts celebrating the her engagement. All seemed well between the couple. However, by June 2022 — not long after Bruce Willis was diagnosed with aphasia — Buss quietly dumped Tallulah.

It didn't take long for rumors to start circling about the couple's breakup. Fans began questioning Tallulah in the comment section of her Instagram posts upon noticing Buss' absence. One follower wrote that she had a new man and, in a lighthearted attempt to play along, Tallulah wrote back, "I do? Who!! Hope they're a cutie patoootie who recycles." Still, she didn't confirm or deny any rumors until 2023.

With her father ill, her engagement called off, and an untreated eating disorder slowly taking over her life, she was at a loss. Thankfully, Tallulah had her family to rely on and they stepped in to help her while her world was crumbling. In her Vogue essay, published in May 2023, she confirmed, "My boyfriend, who was by then my fiancé, dumped me, and my family stepped in as they had done before and sent me to Driftwood Recovery, in Texas."

Tallulah Willis sought treatment after weighing 'about 84 pounds'

A breakup with her fiancé may have been Tallulah Willis' saving grace because she almost immediately sought treatment for her eating disorder. As she wrote for Vogue in 2023, "By the spring of 2022, I weighed about 84 pounds. 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 knew that she was unwell and couldn't carry on this way, so with the help of her family, Willis checked herself into a treatment facility where she received therapy and began her recovery.

She remained at Driftwood Recovery until October 2022. "I realized that what I wanted more than harmony with my body was harmony with my family — to no longer worry them, to bring a levity to my sisters and my parents. An emaciated body wouldn't do that," she wrote.

Willis has been very open about her healing processes — be it from her eating disorder, substance use disorder, or her mental health conditions — often taking to Instagram to share her progress. Recovery from anorexia can be a challenging journey, but Willis thankfully has a strong support network of friends and family she can rely on.

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who does, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

She was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder

While in treatment for her eating disorder, Tallulah Willis not only faced her difficulties head-on, but she learned more about herself in the process. As she wrote in her Vogue essay, "I was introduced to a variety of therapies, my medication was retooled, and I was given a new diagnosis: borderline personality disorder (BPD), an illness that impairs the ability to regulate emotions and find stability in relationships."

Finally, Willis had a tangible reason for her mood swings, poor self-image, and difficulties with her interpersonal relationships, all of which are common symptoms of borderline personality disorder. Following her stay at Driftwood Recovery, she revealed to Vogue that she "felt a lot better," and her BPD diagnosis was being treated with medication. She no longer wanted others to fret over her condition. As she wrote, "I had felt the weight of people worrying about me for years, and that put me on my knees." Now, Willis was able to be more present and focus on spending time with her ailing father.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

She struggled with Bruce Willis' dementia diagnosis

In March 2022, Bruce Willis' family announced that he would be retiring from acting following his diagnosis of aphasia, a condition that impacts a person's ability to speak and understand. As Tallulah Willis later clarified to Vogue, her father has a brain disorder called frontotemporal dementia, which, in his particular case, caused aphasia.

While Bruce's ex-wife Demi Moore, his current wife Emma Heming, and all of their children rallied around the "Die Hard" actor, Tallulah Willis was sadly struggling with her eating disorder when her father was diagnosed — and she didn't handle the news well. "I admit that I have met Bruce's decline in recent years with a share of avoidance and denial that I'm not proud of," she wrote for Vogue.

It was only after seeking treatment for anorexia that she learned she needed to love herself in order to truly be able to be there for her dad. Having since completed her treatment, she learned to love her new body and accept her dad's diagnosis. Thankfully, Tallulah is in a better place with it all. "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. ... I can savor that time, hold my dad's hand, and feel that it's wonderful," she wrote.