Adding to the list of ailments that plagued the legendary comedian-turned-actor, a new biography reveals that Robin Williams was plagued with a brain disorder that had gone undiagnosed at first, giving the great entertainer symptoms that forever altered his high-energy self and eventually led to his suicide.
Titled Robin: The Definitive Biography of Robin Williams, author David Itzhoff goes into detail regarding Williams and his deteriorating mental health. While having been diagnosed initially with Parkinson’s disease, Williams had exhibited behavior that was not tied to the ailment, which in turn led to those around him thinking that he had taken up drugs and alcohol. A neuropathologist eventually saw him and diagnosed him with the second-most-common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, diffuse Lewy body dementia.
Lewy body dementia occurs when protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, develop in nerve cells in the brain regions that involve thinking, memory, emotions and motor control. Williams would suffer from uncontrollable crying, forget his lines and have a shuffling motion in the way he moved. Makeup artist Cheri Minns recalls a breakdown Williams suffered during the filming of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.
“He was sobbing in my arms at the end of every day. It was horrible. Horrible. I said to his people, ‘I’m a makeup artist. I don’t have the capacity to deal with what’s happening to him.'”
Minns has suggested Williams return to doing stand-up comedy as a way to combat his depression, but he would not consider it. “He just cried and said, ‘I can’t, Cheri. I don’t know how anymore. I don’t know how to be funny.’ ”
The month of May is observed as “Mental Health Awareness Month” in the United States. If there is any good to come out of this sad story, it is that of a raised awareness and education about mental illness while reducing the stigma that surrounds it. With more openness regarding this topic and more access to productive care to those who need it, the less likely we as a society will have to experience such tragic and shocking ends like that of the talented icon, Robin Williams.
Don’t forget to share this post on your Facebook wall and with your Twitter followers! Just hit the buttons on the top of this page.