Often when celebrities die, people tend to build a narrative around it — especially when it’s suicide. Robin William’s death in particular, was profoundly deemed as the sad clown myth. Comedians are as good in making people laugh as they are in hiding what they truly feel. When the actor took his own life, it’s people thinking he finally unveiled his inner, sadder self.
However, recent news surfaced that it couldn’t be any more mythical. The actor’s widow has recently spoken to CNN to shed light on something that may well have been the cause of Robin’s death.
Susan Williams found out that her husband, whom she married in 2011, was suffering from an unknown brain disorder called Lewy body dementia. The LBD disorder was discovered upon receiving the official autopsy report.
It adds to a yet already long list of disorders. Robin is allegedly suffering from, including depression and paranoia. He was previously diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease back in 2013 after developing a tremor in his left hand. The comedian was adamant in keeping the Parkinson’s news as a secret. However, as Susan is emphasizing, it just wasn’t the right diagnosis.
Lewy Body Dementia
The fact that there was a misdiagnosis in Robin Williams’ case just proves how little people know about LBD. It’s alarmingly erratic and is combined with numerous signs and symptoms that have led people to doing unpredictable things.
LBD is the second prevalent cause of dementia, accounting for 10-15% of all dementia cases and was first described in the early 20th century by Dr Friedrich Lewy. About 1.4 million Americans are recorded to have the disease.
Lewy bodies are microscopic protein clumps that accumulate within the brain cells, which can lead to the loss of dopamine that eventually leads to Parkinson’s. According to Cleveland Clinic neurologist Dr. James Leverenz, LBD can “muck up the ability for the brain to transmit signals.” The disease affected a person’s mind, mood and movements, “which makes it difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat,” Dr. Leverenz explained.
However, recent research have shown that LBD also affects other parts of the brain, creating other symptoms outside of Parkinson’s including low blood pressure, constipation, drowsiness, mild and fluctuating disturbances in attention and wakefulness as well as hallucinations.
There’s been a lack of compound testing, which accounts for the seeming rarity of LBD. In an unlikely and tragic circumstance, Robin Williams’ case has helped shed light on the disease in hopes of preventing and curing it.
Robin Williams and LBD
It’s been over a year since the prolific actor passed away. For his widow, Susan, the pain is still as fresh as it was considering the new findings surrounding her husband’s death. It wasn’t depression that killed Robin Williams. It was the “chemical warfare” that is LBD.
“My best friend was sinking,” Susan emotionally told ABC’s Amy Robach in a recent interview. She said that she’s spent the last year thinking about what really drove her husband to take his own life that day. It couldn’t have been caused by drugs or alcohol, as Robin has been sober for the last eight years. Susan was convinced that the cause of suicide was “what was going on in his brain.”
Susan recalls the rollercoaster ride she spent with Robin over the last year prior to his death. She thought Robin was hypochondriac, after complaining about varying ailments each time. There was an “endless parade of symptoms” happening. He was suffering from sleeplessness, constipation and a severe pain in his gut. Susan admitted to feeling a sense of relief after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. However, she felt that something still failed to explain what exactly was happening to her husband.
In the interview, Susan shared a story about Robin hitting the bathroom door, to which the late actor said, “I miscalculated.” They didn’t know then but LBD has been affecting Robin’s eyesight and his ability to identify certain objects.
The multi-awarded actor is known to be active and efficient, which made it particularly hard for him to cope with his condition. Susan was convinced that LBD drove Robin to commit suicide. She believed her departed husband was losing his mind and “he was aware of it.”
In Susan Williams’ opinion, Robin’s act of taking a belt to hang himself was a form of taking control back, one that was a very painful choice Susan forgave Williams for doing.
Susan got to see him after emergency responders tried to revive the actor, to which she told Robin: “I forgive you 50 billion percent, with all my heart. You’re the bravest man I’ve ever known.’
Despite the disease, Susan Williams said she and her husband were happy during the last three years they have spent together as a married couple.