In 2014, we lost an extremely talented and beloved actor who touched the hearts of millions. Robin Williams' death affected us all. A man who brought laughter, smiles and tears for so many years, gone too soon.
Susan Schneider Williams, Robin’s widow, broke her silence this week in her first on-the-record interview with PEOPLE Magazine. In the interview, she spoke candidly about the couple’s separate and collective struggles with the disorder that killed Williams, Diffuse Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), or Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).
"It was not depression that killed Robin," Susan said to PEOPLE, speaking to the misguided public assumption of what caused Williams' suicide. "Depression was one of let's call it 50 symptoms and it was a small one.”
Schneider Williams compared her husband’s many symptoms in the final year of his life to “whack-a-mole,” “present(ing) themselves like a pinball machine.”
DLB is often misdiagnosed, and the second most common neurodegenerative dementia following Alzheimer’s. The disorder is known to cause rapid and unpredictable fluctuations in mental status, hallucinations and impairment of motor function.
According to the Mayo Clinic, DLB may also cause visual hallucinations, which generally take the form of objects, people or animals that aren't there, which can lead to unusual behavior such as having conversations with deceased loved ones.
"I know now the doctors, the whole team was doing exactly the right things," Susan told PEOPLE. "It's just that this disease was faster than us and bigger than us. We would have gotten there eventually.”
The couple had been married in Napa Valley in October of 2011 and were the darlings of gossip and news sites, often photographed out and about. The couple had kept Williams’ disorder private, which is why this interview is big news. Schneider Williams hopes that her speaking out will raise awareness of the disorder which affects over 1 million Americans primarily over the age of 50.
Presently there are no treatments to help those who have been diagnosed as suffering from DLB. According to ALZ.org, doctors are presently focusing on helping patients with dealing with the many varied symptoms.
At press time, the website for the Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA) was not functioning. We hope this is due to an influx of web traffic from the Schneider Williams’ interview. She may have already helped raise awareness about this terrible disorder more than she ever hoped.(H/T TIME)