LOS ANGELES, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- More than two years after Robin Williams' shocking suicide, the Oscar-winning actor's wife has written an essay about the condition she says caused him to take his own life.
Susan Schneider Williams' account of her husband's final days battling what she now knows is Lewy body disease, a form of dementia, was published this week in the medical journal Neurology under the title, "The terrorist inside my husband's brain."
Williams explained in the piece that she wanted to raise awareness and encourage research so scientists and doctors will some day be able to help others who suffer from the insidious, as-yet-incurable disease, the full effects of which Williams said she did not fully comprehend until after her husband's death at the age of 63.
"He died from suicide in 2014 at the end of an intense, confusing, and relatively swift persecution at the hand of this disease's symptoms and pathology. He was not alone in his traumatic experience with this neurologic disease. As you may know, almost 1.5 million nationwide are suffering similarly right now," the widow explained.
"Although not alone, his case was extreme. Not until the coroner's report, 3 months after his death, would I learn that it was diffuse LBD that took him. All 4 of the doctors I met with afterwards and who had reviewed his records indicated his was one of the worst pathologies they had seen. He had about 40% loss of dopamine neurons and almost no neurons were free of Lewy bodies throughout the entire brain and brainstem. ... How I wish he could have known why he was struggling, that it was not a weakness in his heart, spirit, or character. "
Among the symptoms he experienced were extreme paranoia, sleeplessness, forgetfulness and confusion. It also slowed his walk and made his hand tremor. To address the effects, he underwent countless tests, consulted numerous doctors and tried various medications, psychotherapy, physical therapy, bike riding and working out with a trainer.
"In Robin's case, on top of being a genius, he was a Julliard-trained actor. I will never know the true depth of his suffering, nor just how hard he was fighting. But from where I stood, I saw the bravest man in the world playing the hardest role of his life," his wife noted.
"Robin was losing his mind and he was aware of it. 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."