Losing visual and spatial abilities, finding himself stuck in a frozen stance and unable to move are few of those struggles, which much-loved actor Robin Williams went through in his final months before the suicide, reveals his wife in a heart-wrenching essay.
Williams’ fans haven’t even properly moved on from the actor’s suicide in 2014, and the latest details of his condition before he took his life only deepen those wounds. In a piece titled, “The Terrorist Inside My Husband’s Brain”, Susan Schneider chronicles the couple’s battle to arrive at a proper diagnosis.
“Robin was losing his mind and he was aware of it,” Schneider writes in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
“Can you imagine the pain he felt as he experienced himself disintegrating? And not from something he would ever know the name of, or understand? Neither he, nor anyone could stop it — no amount of intelligence or love could hold it back.”
“At times, he would find himself stuck in a frozen stance, unable to move, and frustrated when he came out of it. He was beginning to have trouble with visual and spatial abilities in the way of judging distance and depth. His loss of basic reasoning just added to his growing confusion.”
She notes that his conditions were so severe that he said he wanted to “reboot” his brain.
“[Robin] kept saying, ‘I just want to reboot my brain.’
Doctor appointments, testing, and psychiatry kept us in perpetual motion. Countless blood tests, urine tests, plus rechecks of cortisol levels and lymph nodes.
“Everything came back negative, except for high cortisol levels. We wanted to be happy about all the negative test results, but Robin and I both had a deep sense that something was terribly wrong.”
Schneider recalls that the actor had trouble “remembering just one line” while filming “Night at the Museum 3.”
“On May 28th, he was diagnosed with Parkinson disease. We had an answer. My heart swelled with hope. But somehow I knew Robin was not buying it.”
It wouldn’t be until the results of the autopsy came in that Schneider would have a diagnosis she felt confident in– a little-known but deadly disorder known as Lewy Body Disease, a type of degenerative dementia closely associated with Parkinson’s disease.
“This likely caused the acute paranoia and out-of-character emotional responses he was having. How I wish he could have known why he was struggling, that it was not a weakness in his heart, spirit, or character.”
Robin hanged himself on August 11, 2014, at his home in California, dying from asphyxiation, an autopsy report concluded. He and third wife Susan Schneider Williams were married in 2011.
Schneider ends her essay with an appeal to the neurological community. “It is my belief that when healing comes out of Robin’s experience, he will not have battled and died in vain.”
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