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Robin Williams’ widow chronicles actor’s diagnosis before death

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Robin Williams’ widow, Susan Schneider, said that her husband knew he was “losing his mind” leading up to his suicide in 2014.

(Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)


Friday, September 30, 2016, 10:44 PM

The final weeks of Robin Williams’ life were “tragic and heartbreaking,” his widow said.

In a personal essay called “The terrorist inside my husband’s brain,” Susan Schneider Williams chronicles the comedian’s last days before his suicide in 2014.

“Robin was losing his mind and he was aware of it,” Williams wrote in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology. “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 said the “Dead Poets Society” star was struggling with Lewy body disease, which was causing constipation, urinary difficulty, heartburn, sleeplessness and insomnia, a poor sense of smell and a slight tremor in his left hand.

“He kept saying, ‘I just want to reboot my brain.’ Doctor appointments, testing, and psychiatry kept us in perpetual motion. Countless blood tests, urine tests, plus rechecks of cortisol levels and lymph nodes. A brain scan was done, looking for a possible tumor on his pituitary gland, and his cardiologist rechecked his heart,” Schneider wrote.

Front page of the August 15, 2014 New York Daily News.

Front page of the August 15, 2014 New York Daily News.

(New York Daily News)

“Everything came back negative, except for high cortisol levels. We wanted to be happy about all the negative test results, but Robin and I both had a deep sense that something was terribly wrong.”

Williams was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but it was his autopsy that revealed the Lewy body disease.

He went to physical therapy and worked out with his trainer, and a specialist at Stanford University taught him self-hypnosis techniques for his irrational fears and anxiety, Schneider wrote. But nothing worked.

He started having hallucinations, too, and showed signs of depression that hadn’t been active for six years.

“Throughout all of this, Robin was clean and sober,” she wrote, “and somehow, we sprinkled those summer months with happiness, joy, and the simple things we loved: meals and birthday celebrations with family and friends, meditating together, massages, and movies, but mostly just holding each other’s hand.”

Williams committed suicide in August 2014.

Williams committed suicide in August 2014.

(Charles Sykes/AP)

On Aug. 11, 2014, Williams hanged himself at his Paradise Cay, Calif., home.

“Hopefully from this sharing of our experience you will be inspired to turn Robin’s suffering into something meaningful through your work and wisdom,” Schneider wrote. “It is my belief that when healing comes out of Robin’s experience, he will not have battled and died in vain. You are uniquely positioned to help with this.”

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