‘We were living a nightmare.’
The widow of Robin Williams has spoken about her late husband’s death for the first time, more than a year after he took his own life.
Susan Schneider Williams, in interviews with People magazine and Good Morning America, says it wasn’t depression that caused Robin Williams to suicide, it was a condition called Lewy body dementia.
The debilitating brain condition began to affect Williams about a year before his death.
“It was not depression that killed Robin,” Schneider Williams told People. “Depression was one of let’s call it 50 symptoms and it was a small one.”
Watch Schneider Williams’ interview here… Post continues after video.
Lewy body dementia, also known as dementia with Lewy bodies, is a progressive brain disorder characterised by microscopic protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, that develop on the brain.
It’s the second most common form of dementia, but it’s often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s. The symptoms include sleep disorders, hallucinations, impaired movement, difficulty judging distance, confusion, and memory loss.
It’s swift-moving, and a patient diagnosed with Lewy body dementia has approximately seven years to live after the onset of symptoms, according to Alzheimer’s Australia.
Williams had received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, but his Lewy body dementia wasn’t discovered until a post-mortem.
Schneider Williams says Robin Williams’ symptoms had worsened in the months leading up to his death. She told People magazine that he suffered crippling panic attacks and a miscalculation had caused him to injure his head badly on a bathroom door.
“If Robin was lucky, he would’ve had maybe three years left. And they would’ve been hard years. And it’s a good chance he would’ve been locked up,” Schneider Williams told ABC News’ Amy Robach on Good Morning America.
Robach asked her if Williams’ suicide was him trying to regain control.
“In my opinion, oh, yeah,” she said. “I mean, there are many reasons. Believe me. I’ve thought about this. Of what was going on in his mind, what made him ultimately commit — you know, to do that act. And I think he was just saying, ‘No.’ And I don’t blame him one bit. I don’t blame him one bit.”
The last conversation Schneider Williams had with her husband, he offered to give her a foot massage.
“And I said, ‘It’s OK, honey. Not — you know, it’s OK. You don’t have to tonight.’ And I’ll never forget the look in his eyes of just sad, because he wanted to. And I wished — you know?” she said. “Then he came back in the room a couple of times. Once to his closet. And he said — and then he laughed. And he said, ‘Goodnight, my love.’ And I said, ‘Goodnight, my love.’”
The next morning, she left without seeing Williams, thinking he was still asleep. She told Williams’ assistant to have him call her when he woke up. But by 11:30am, he still hadn’t called. The assistant called her, but Schneider Williams couldn’t bring herself to tell the television host, Robach, what she’d said.
“That 20-minute car ride, I just screamed the whole way, ‘Robin!’” she said.
“And I just wanted to see my husband. And I got to see him… and I got to pray with him. And I got to tell him, ‘I forgive you 50 billion per cent, with all my heart. You’re the bravest man I’ve ever known.’ You know, we were living a nightmare,” she said.
The couple had been together for seven years, and married for three. Schneider Williams called Williams the “best love” of her life.
“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. Because we didn’t know. He didn’t know,” she told People.