Just over two years since his passing, Robin Williams' widow, Susan Schneider Williams has spoken openly about the comedic legend's final year.
In an essay written for the medical journal, Neurology, Schneider Williams described Lewy body dementia - the disease with which he was diagnosed with just a few months before his suicide - as "the terrorist inside my husband's brain."
"The parkinsonian mask was ever present and his voice was weakened. His left hand tremor was continuous now and he had a slow, shuffling gait. He hated that he could not find the words he wanted in conversations. He would thrash at night and still had terrible insomnia," explained Schneider Williams.
"At times, he would find himself stuck in a frozen stance, unable to move, and frustrated when he came out of it. He was beginning to have trouble with visual and spatial abilities in the way of judging distance and depth. His loss of basic reasoning just added to his growing confusion.”
Schneider Williams described the toll her husband went through in agonising detail, detailing an incident in which the actor struggled to remember a single line from Night At The Museum 3 - despite the fact that only two years prior, Williams was performing on Broadway in a dialogue-heavy play for several nights a week.
"A brain scan was done, looking for a possible tumor on his pituitary gland, and his cardiologist rechecked his heart. 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."
As the essay describes, Williams was initially diagnosed with Parkinson's, however it was only through autopsy testing that the real cause of his depression - Lewy body dementia, or LBD - was revealed. There is currently no treatment or cure for it.
"The key problem seemed to be that no one could correctly interpret Robin's symptoms in time."
Schneider Williams finished the essay with a direct message to neurologists, saying that "...(if) only Robin could have met you. He would have loved you—not just because he was a genius and enjoyed science and discovery, but because he would have found a lot of material within your work to use in entertaining his audiences, including the troops. In fact, the most repeat character role he played throughout his career was a doctor, albeit different forms of practice."
To learn more about LBD, go to Alzheimer.ie and please consider donating to Alzheimer's Ireland.