Robin Williams's wife and close colleagues saw him suffer but she did not know how to help him.
Robin Williams found ways to make the people around him smile. His spontaneous humor captured the hearts of many and his movies were a delight to his fans. Williams' ability to make a person think and giggle at the same time through his characters made him stand out. However, during the days leading to his death, the actor felt he lost his ability to make others laugh, a talent that came so naturally to him. His body had given up and the actor struggled to deal with the changes it underwent. Unaware of the medical condition he suffered from, Williams cried out feeling helpless and lost.
After months of trying to deal with it, the actor was forced to take his own life in August 2014. The news of his death was tough to believe for the ones, who loved him dearly. However, those close to the actor knew about the final painful days that led to his death. Soon after he passed away, they talked about Williams' ordeal and how much it affected him.
Dave Itzkoff wrote a biography named Robin in which he spoke of the brain diseases that tormented the actor, according to the Telegraph. The disease broke the actor little by little, causing symptoms such as memory loss. Apart from the physical challenges, Williams, who could not comprehend the reasons behind it, underwent a lot of mental and emotional pain. It started to affect his daily life and even came in the way of his profession. During the filming of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Williams could not remember his lines. He was heartbroken and wept uncontrollably.
"He was sobbing in my arms at the end of every day. It was horrible. Horrible," recalled Cheri Minns, a member of the film's makeup team. She continued, "I said to his people, ‘I’m a makeup artist. I don’t have the capacity to deal with what’s happening to him.’” Having witnessed his agony, Minns encouraged the actor. She did not know how to console him and so told him to do standup. However, she was devastated by the actor's reply. The man, who made people laugh his entire life broke down in front of her and said he could no longer do it. “He just cried and said, ‘I can’t, Cheri. I don’t know how anymore. I don’t know how to be funny,'" recalled the makeup artist.
Williams' condition on set did not improve. He lacked the confidence and his body made it impossible for him to showcase the true talent that he had. The actor suffered a panic attack and was given anti-psychotic medication to help him overcome the situation.
Meanwhile, it was only after his death that everyone including his colleagues, family, and fans came to know of his brain disease. The actor's autopsy revealed that he suffered from Lewy body disease, "a degenerative condition that causes memory loss, dementia, hallucinations, and even affects movement," according to the Telegraph. Soon after, his wife, Susan Schneider Williams wrote a personal account describing the struggle they went through as a couple due to the then mysterious illness.
She wrote, "In Robin's case, on top of being a genius, he was a Julliard-trained actor. I will never know the true depth of his suffering, nor just how hard he was fighting. But from where I stood, I saw the bravest man in the world playing the hardest role of his life," according to Neurology.org. Schneider recalled how she watched her husband reach his breaking point, leaving her confused.
"For the first time, my own reasoning had no effect in helping my husband find the light through the tunnels of his fear. I felt his disbelief in the truths I was saying. My heart and my hope were shattered temporarily. We had reached a place we had never been before. My husband was trapped in the twisted architecture of his neurons and no matter what I did I could not pull him out," wrote Schneider according to Neurology.org. She did not know how to help him and stood by him with a distraught heart praying for him to feel better. "Powerless and frozen, I stood in the darkness of not knowing what was happening to my husband," wrote the widow.
Despite her support, Williams could not live any longer. He finally gave up on his distressed life.