Robin Williams’ widow writes essay about actor’s diagnosis


Susan Schneider and actor Robin Williams attend the Premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures’ ‘Happy Feet Two’ at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on November 13, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK– Robin Williams‘ widow, Susan Schneider Williams, is sharing more details about the months leading up to the actor’s death.

Schneider Williams wrote an essay for the medical journal “Neurology,” which was published on Tuesday. In it, she described learning about his diagnosis with Parkinson disease and eventually finding out he had Lewy body dementia, which wasn’t discovered until after his passing.

Williams took his own life on Aug. 11, 2014 at the age of 63.

The essay, called “The terrorist inside my husband’s brain,” detailed Williams’ panic attacks and anxiety while filming “Night at the Museum 3.”

“During the filming of the movie, Robin was having trouble remembering even one line for his scenes, while just 3 years prior he had played in a full 5-month season of the Broadway production Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, often doing two shows a day with hundreds of lines—and not one mistake. This loss of memory and inability to control his anxiety was devastating to him,” Schneider Williams said.

She said she was unable to reason with him and felt helpless as he struggled. After countless tests, he was diagnosed with Parkinson disease, but Williams wasn’t satisfied with the answer.

“It felt like he was drowning in his symptoms, and I was drowning along with him. Typically the plethora of LBD symptoms appear and disappear at random times—even throughout the course of a day. I experienced my brilliant husband being lucid with clear reasoning 1 minute and then, 5 minutes later, blank, lost in confusion,” Schneider Williams wrote.

She said she believed his delusions were getting better.

“When we retired for sleep, in our customary way, my husband said to me, ‘Goodnight, my love,’ and waited for my familiar reply: ‘Goodnight, my love,'” she shared. “His words still echo through my heart today.”

“After Robin left, time has never functioned the same for me. My search for meaning has replicated like an inescapable spring throughout nearly every aspect of my world, including the most mundane.”

Three months after his death, Schneider Williams learned the comedian suffered from Lewy body dementia. She spent the next year meeting with doctors and experts to better understand what happened. She said she wasn’t surprised to find out Williams had one of the worst LBD pathologies the coroners had ever seen.

“But would having a diagnosis while he was alive really have made a difference when there is no cure? We will never know the answer to this. I am not convinced that the knowledge would have done much more than prolong Robin’s agony while he would surely become one of the most famous test subjects of new medicines and ongoing medical trials.”

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