It has been a little over two years since Robin Williams passed away, but his presence still has a major impact on the lives of many.
Williams’ widow, Susan Schneider Williams, published an essay on Neurology.org talking about her husband’s final days alive, hoping that sharing her information can “help make a difference in the lives of others.”
In her heartbreaking essay titled, “The terrorist inside my husband’s brain,” she explained her husband’s surprising death by committing suicide after his long struggle with Lewy body disease (LBD).
Lewy body disease is a type of dementia. Fairly common among the elderly, LBD happens when abnormal structures, Lewy bodies, build up in parts of the brain. LBD can affect normal everyday activities.
“He had about 40% loss of dopamine neurons and almost no neurons were free of Lewy bodies throughout the entire brain and brainstem,” noted Schneider. Doctors she met with after his death reported that Williams’ case of LBD had been one of the worst they had seen.
Schneider continued on with her essay describing how Robin Williams started feeling discomforting pains and showed an increase in anxiety. By the wintertime of 2013, his delusions, memory, and insomnia were increasing. While filming "Night at the Museum 3," Williams suffered a panic attack. “Robin was having trouble remembering even one line for his scenes,” she wrote, “This loss of memory and inability to control his anxiety was devastating to him.”
Schneider Williams concluded her essay by addressing the doctors and those researching LWD.
“If only Robin could have met you. He would have loved you—not just because he was a genius and enjoyed science and discovery, but because he would have found a lot of material within your work to use in entertaining his audiences, including the troops,” and continues on “You and your work have ignited a spark within the region of my brain where curiosity and interest lie and within my heart where hope lives.”