Robin Williams had Lewy body dementia
ROBIN Williams's widow revealed on Tuesday that the late actor suffered from Lewy body dementia, a neurodegenerative disease that alters mood, movement and provokes hallucinations.
"It was not depression that killed Robin. Depression was one of - let's call it 50 symptoms - and it was a small one," Susan Schneider told People magazine.
Days after Williams's suicide Aug 11 last year at age 63, his wife said he had been struggling with Parkinson's disease, depression and anxiety.
It turns out he was suffering from a form of dementia that has Parkinson's-like symptoms as well as visual hallucinations.
The first signs that something was wrong came in November 2013.
"They present themselves like a pinball machine," Ms Schneider said. "You don't know exactly what you're looking at."
His condition grew worse in the months before his death. Williams suffered anxiety attacks that caused him to become rigid and to misjudge distances.
On one occasion, Ms Schneider found him with his muscles completely seized up and his head bleeding because he had hit a door.
Doctors performed hundreds of tests to try to figure out what was going on, but it was not until the results of Williams's autopsy came in that it was determined he was suffering from Lewy body dementia.
"We were living a nightmare," Ms Schneider told ABC News in a tearful interview.
The actor's third wife was speaking out after reaching a settlement last month with his three children from previous relationships that ended a bitter dispute over his estate and the dividing up of his personal belongings.
She said Williams understood that he was losing his mind.
"He was keeping it together as best as he could, but the last month he could not. It's like the dam broke," she said.
Williams had been planning to undergo neurological testing the week before he committed suicide last year, and likely only had three years to live, his widow said.
"If Robin was lucky, he would've had maybe three years left. And they would've been hard years. And it's a good chance he would've been locked up," she said, referring to a doctor's prognosis for the comedian.
After a lifetime of struggles with addiction, Williams had been "completely clean and sober" in the eight years before his death, but his chronic depression had returned along with paranoia, she added.
The United States authorities said Williams, who won an Oscar in 1998 for Good Will Hunting, died of asphyxiation.
The night before his tragic demise, Ms Schneider said he was calm. He entered her bedroom a couple of times, once with an iPad in hand.
"I thought, 'This is good,' " she said. They said good night. It was the last time she saw him alive.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS