"It was really difficult to see someone suffering so silently," said his son.
"Robin is in heaven making the angels laugh," Pierce Brosnan wrote on Instagram about his co-star, Robin Williams, who will always be remembered for his uncanny ability to tease a laugh out of the dullest souls.
But the man who was played an array of roles and captivated us with his charm and talent grew weaker and vulnerable towards the last years of his life
The phenomenal actor had become starkly aware that he was somewhat losing himself and the people around him could see it, too. Yet he wanted to keep working despite his condition. "He wasn’t in good shape at all,” said Cheri Minns, his makeup artist, in Dave Itzkoff's biography titled Robin, according to Vanity Fair. "He was sobbing in my arms at the end of every day. It was horrible. Horrible. But I just didn’t know."
This was the time when he was struggling to remember his lines after being praised in the past for his great memory.
Minns gave the actor a suggestion but it led to one of the greatest comedians of Hollywood sobbing and saying that he no longer knew how to be funny.
"I said, 'Robin, why don’t you go and do stand-up?'" Minns said and recalled Williams breaking down in tears. "He just cried and said, 'I can’t, Cheri.' I said, 'What do you mean, you can’t?' He said, 'I don’t know how anymore. I don’t know how to be funny.' And it was just gut-wrenching to hear him admit that, rather than lie to me and say something else. I think that’s how troubled he was about all of it."
His wife, Susan Schneider, who married the actor in 2011 also recalled how he struggled with his emotions, fighting with depression and paranoia. "Robin was losing his mind and he was aware of it," Schneider said in the book and remembered how Williams wished to have a "reboot for his brain."
His old friend Cyndi McHale said, "He had a physical condition that was manifesting. He knew there was something wrong with his brain. And two of his best friends—my late husband and Christopher Reeve—ended up paralyzed in a wheelchair. So he’s thinking, O.K., I’m losing control of my body. There’s something going on in my brain. I think he was just trapped."
Even Williams' children could see their father suffer in his lone world of pain while they felt helpless not being able to do anything about it. "It was really difficult to see someone suffering so silently," said Williams' oldest son, Zak. "But I think that there were a series of things that stacked, that led to an environment that he felt was one of pain, internal anguish, and one that he couldn’t get out of. And the challenge in engaging with him when he was in that mind-set was that he could be soothed, but it’s really hard when you then go back into an environment of isolation. Isolation is not good for Dad and people like him. It’s actually terrible."
On August 11, 2014, the world lost Williams.
The actor died without even knowing the exact medical condition that severely affected his mental health. Three months after his suicide, his wife Schneider finally got some answers to what her husband was suffering from. It was an extreme case of Lewy body disease (LBD) that overtook the actor's life. "He died from suicide in 2014 at the end of an intense, confusing, and relatively swift persecution at the hand of this disease's symptoms and pathology," Schneider wrote for Neurology.
While speaking to People, Schneider also explained, "It was not depression that killed Robin. Depression was one of let’s call it 50 symptoms and it was a small one." In the 2015 interview, she spoke about her hope that Williams' story might increase awareness about LBD along with the existing legacy he has left behind onscreen.
"I’ve spent this last year trying to find out what killed Robin. To understand what we were fighting, what we were in the trenches fighting and one of the doctors said, ‘Robin was very aware that he was losing his mind and there was nothing he could do about it,'" Schneider said. "This was a very unique case and I pray to God that it will shed some light on Lewy bodies for the millions of people and their loved ones who are suffering with it. Because we didn’t know. He didn’t know."