On August 11, 2014, Robin Williams tragically passed away. Many people were unaware of the late actor’s arduous struggle with melancholy and Lewy body dementia (LBD), which ultimately led to his taking his own life. The news of the star’s passing shocked the whole globe.
The terrorist within my husband’s head is the title of a personal essay written by his 56-year-old widow Susan Schneider Williams two years after her husband’s passing.
Prior to telling her narrative, Schneider-Williams explains why she decided to tell the American Academy of Neurology and the rest of the world about her experience. She claims that by doing so, she would “help [the institution] understand [their] patients along with their wives and carers a little bit more.”
She notes that although this is a personal account that is tragically painful, “by sharing this knowledge with you, I believe that you may help make a difference in the lives of others,”
The 56-year-old went on to state that her late husband’s pathologies were “one of the worst” the physicians had ever seen and that LBD was not discovered until after his passing.
Almost no neurons in his entire brain and brainstem were devoid of Lewy bodies, and he had a loss of dopamine neurons of roughly 40%.
The second most prevalent type of dementia after Alzheimer’s, lewy body dementia involves a wide range of challenging symptoms, including visual hallucinations, cognitive issues, mobility abnormalities, depression, and more.
The Alzheimer’s Association claims that “The majority of patients with Lewy body dementia have no family history of the condition, and no genes definitively related to Lewy body dementia have been found.
The plethora of LBD symptoms typically appear and disappear at random times—even throughout the course of a day. I observed my brilliant husband being lucid with clear reasoning one minute and then, five minutes later, blank, lost in confusion. “It felt like he was drowning in his symptoms, and I was drowning along with him,” Schneider-Williams recalled.
However, Schneider-Williams said that the days preceding her husband’s death were “wonderful,” leading her to think that the “terrorist” inside his head was “calming.”
By the end of Sunday, I could tell he was improving. Before bed on Monday, August 11, my husband said to me, “Goodnight, my love,” and waited for my customary reply: “Goodnight, my love.’ His words still echo through my heart today. We did all the things we love on Saturday day and into the evening, it was perfect—like one long date.”