Between watching interviews and favorite movies over and over, it’s not uncommon for people to feel like they personally know their favorite celebrities. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for fans to speculate about the drama in the personal lives of celebrities, and Robin Williams’ death was no exception. Fortunately, his wife came forward a couple of years ago to set the record straight. Clearing the air about his condition and any other misconceptions regarding the suicide of the beloved late actor.
After Robin Williams committed suicide in August of 2014, fans speculated that perhaps he was struggling with his mental health, some even assuming he’d picked up some old “unsavory” habits. He was 63 at the time and had developed a highly lovable reputation but he’d had a history of addiction and even checked into rehab shortly before his death. With all the possibilities, how could adoring fans not wonder about the real story? Appearing in a long list of comedies, dramas, and mashups, his diverse portfolio touched hearts nationwide.
Robin Williams Falls in Love
In 2007, while shopping at an Apple Store, Robin Williams met the woman he would spend the rest of his short life with. “I walked in and saw this man and I thought: ‘I think that’s Robin Williams.’ Then on my way out I happened to look at him again and he was smiling at me and something inside me said: ‘Oh, just go over and say hi.’ He was wearing a camouflage print, so I said: ‘How’s that camo working out for you?’ And he said: ‘Not too good – you found me.’” His widow, Susan, told the Guardian in 2021.
Happy Union Followed by Tragedy
In 2011, the pair were married and although had a short union, they created a life full of fun. “Robin and I loved to go to museums together. He was a big history buff, so he would bring the history and I would bring the art side and we would double our fun.” Susan explained. The pair settled in Marin County as Susan had young sons from a previous marriage.
Unfortunately, they would have only 2 happy years together before Robin Williams would begin having severe stomach pains, hand tremors, and terrible insomnia as well. However, the most crippling of his symptoms seemed to be his anxiety. “It was very out of character for Robin to be so paranoid. And that was the start of this 10-month drumbeat of increasing symptoms, and the thing with LBD is the symptoms don’t come all at once – they change. So, they’re incredibly confusing to the patient and caregiver,” She stated.
Robin Williams’ Misdiagnosis
Robin Williams was misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s in May of 2014. Although his actual condition was unbeknownst to doctors at the time, he had symptoms that couldn’t be explained away by Parkinson’s. Susan insisted he goes to a neurocognitive testing facility. Tragically, they would never get there because a week before his scheduled appointment, he committed suicide. “I think he didn’t want to go. I think he thought: ‘I’m going to get locked up and never come out,’” Susan disclosed.
It turns out that Robin Williams actually suffered from Lewy Body Dementia. LBD occurs when abnormal amounts of protein gather in the brain’s cells, causing many of the symptoms that plagued Robin Williams, including paranoia and insomnia. The misdiagnosis likely came from the similarities between the two, as they’re both closely associated with Dementia.
The Real Diagnosis
It wasn’t until after his death that doctors were able to accurately diagnose the LBD. One doctor even stated it was the worst case he’d ever seen. However, little is known about LBD. As a result, Susan has made it her driving force, to educate others. “The doctors said to me after the autopsy: ‘Are you surprised that your husband had Lewy bodies throughout his entire brain and brain stem?’ I didn’t even know what Lewy bodies were, but I said: ‘No, I’m not surprised.’ The fact that something had infiltrated every part of my husband’s brain? That made perfect sense.” Susan disclosed.
A Mission to Inform
Her mission had begun with the release of ‘Robin’s Wish‘. The documentary sheds light on the mysterious disease and details his struggles. “If my husband weren’t famous, I would not have put myself through this. But there were so many misunderstandings out there about what had happened to him, and about Lewy bodies. So, this felt like the right thing to do,” she explained.
Furthermore, Susan went on to clear the air about Robin Williams’ last trip to rehab, explaining that he simply went for meditation and healing and that his former addictions weren’t an issue. Adding, that he had 8 years of sobriety at the time of his death. “It infuriated me when the media said he’d been drinking, because I know there are recovering addicts out there who looked up to him, people dealing with depression who looked up to him, and they deserve to know the truth.” She said.
Adored By All
Robin Williams was loved by fans and colleagues alike. Julie Kavner once said, “Honest to God, walking down the street with Robin was like walking with Mother Teresa, the way people would react to him.” Continuing, “His spirit was just so out there, and people wanted to thank him. I’m about to cry just thinking about it.” Meanwhile, director, Gus Van Sant, commented, “People were just so happy to see him. They were like: ‘Oh, it’s you!’ and hug him without even asking. I’ve never seen that with any other famous person I’ve worked with.” He said, continuing, “He had that soft side, and he was receptive to people and things around him.”
News of the death of Robin Williams was hard for everyone, none more so than his wife and children. However, Susan has used the tragedy to help others and keep her husband’s memory alive. “But Robin still tends to show up when I need him. But when he’s not there, I think of my friend, my love, and I miss him.” Susan sweetly explained.
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- “Robin Williams’s widow: ‘there were so many misunderstandings about what had happened to him’.” The Guardian. Hadley Freeman. January 1, 2021.
- “Robin Williams’ widow clarifies misunderstandings about what really happened to him” NZ Herald January 3, 2021.