The widow of comedian Robin Williams is opening up about her husband’s death, saying that it wasn’t driven by depression.
Williams, 63, was found dead in his California home in August 2014, and his death was ruled a suicide. At the time, Williams’ wife, Susan, shared that he had been battling severe depression, anxiety and the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.
In a new interview with People, Susan says that Williams actually had Diffuse Lewy Body Dimentia, a debilitating brain disease.
“It was not depression that killed Robin,” she said in People. “Depression was one of, let’s call it 50 symptoms, and it was a small one.”
People reports that DLB is the second most common neurodegenerative dementia after Alzheimer’s. It causes fluctuations in mental status, hallucinations and impairment of motor function.
DLB impacted Williams the year prior to his suicide, and the symptoms got worse right before he died. Susan said he would experience severe anxiety attacks and muscle rigidity, among other symptoms.
“(The symptoms) present themselves like a pinball machine,” said Susan. “You don’t know exactly what you’re looking at.”
He was not diagnosed with DLB until his autopsy. It’s a disease that is very often misdiagnosed.
“I’ve spent this last year trying to find out what killed Robin,” she told People. “To understand what we were fighting, what we were in the trenches fighting and one of the doctors said, ‘Robin was very aware that he was losing his mind and there was nothing he could do about it’.”
Susan is now hoping to spread the word about the disease to help others who may have it and not know.
“This was a very unique case and I pray to God that it will shed some light on Lewy bodies for the millions of people and their loved ones who are suffering with it,” she said.