Since Robin Williams‘ death in 2014, many of the details of his final days were left unknown. Out of respect for the man who entertained fans for decades, it was best not to indulge in the morbid curiosity. However, his widow, Susan Schneider Williams, recently wrote an essay entitled “The terrorist inside my husband’s head” for the Official Journal Of The American Academy Of Neurology, bringing to light the tragic details of Williams’ battle with Parkinson’s disease. In the essay, Schneider Williams describes a truly harrowing battle with neurological and physiological symptoms that eventually drove her husband to suicide.
Schneider Williams chronicles the struggles that the couple underwent while trying to find a proper diagnosis for Williams’ degenerating health, calling the ordeal “tragic and heartbreaking.”
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.
Schneider Williams goes on to write that while doctors eventually settled on a diagnosis, Parkinson’s disease, Williams condition went further with that with Lewy Body Disease, a type of dementia associated with Parkinson’s. She goes on to claim that this was the final straw for Williams.
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.
On top of working out her own grief regarding the situation, Schneider Williams is clear that she wants Williams’ struggles to be taken seriously by the neurological community, so that people suffering from the same conditions will receive the help that they need.
Hopefully from this sharing of our experience you will be inspired to turn Robin’s suffering into something meaningful through your work and wisdom. It is my belief that when healing comes out of Robin’s experience, he will not have battled and died in vain.
The entire essay is worth your time, as it is a powerful work about the crumbling of a beloved man. Williams’ family, friends, and fans may never get the answers that they’re looking for, but at least those closest to him are working to do good in the wake of tragedy.