Robin Williams was reportedly in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease before he died, this according to his wife. The late actor was said to want this news kept out of the public eye, and to overcome the battle on his own terms.
Susan Schneider, to whom Williams had been married to since 2011, released a statement Thursday morning surrounding her husband’s passing. She confirms rumors that the One Hour Photo star had struggled with depression as well as anxiety throughout the years, but made it very clear that his battles with sobriety were over and that he was in no way under the influence of alcohol or drugs when his passing occurred. She went on to express her hopes that the tragedy of her husband’s passing would encourage others who are facing the same struggles to seek appropriate help for their troubles, in order to find a way to get better and be less afraid. She does not, however, make any connection between her late husband’s diagnoses and the decision he made to take his life.
Williams was not the only celebrity to suffer from Parkinson’s. Canadian-American actor-author Michael J. Fox, most famous for his role as Marty McFly in the 1985 sci-fi comedy hit Back To The Future, has battled the disease since 1991. He began experiencing early symptoms while shooting the movie Doc Hollywood, although he was not properly diagnosed until the following year. In 2000, Fox established the The Michael J. Fox Foundation, which is dedicated to furthering every possible research method when it comes to curing the illness. His book, Lucky Man, details his journey through working with the illness and living his life to its fullest at the same time. Other famous names associated with the illness include legendary heavyweight boxing champion Muhammed Ali, country superstar Johnny Cash, and award-winning actor Billy Connolly.
Parkinson’s is an illness that is said to affect approximately four million people in the Western world, with these numbers expecting to double to an astonishing nine million by the year 2030. The disorder causes cells that produce dopamine to fail, thus gradually affecting the afflicted individual’s motor ability. This leads to the occurrence of shaking, trembling, and imbalance amongst said individual. Throughout later stages of the illness, the individual is likely to experience difficulty with speech or ability to walk. Experts say this loss of livelihood may often contribute to feelings of depression or anxiety, even possibly leading to thoughts of suicide.
The latter thought was one reportedly felt by Williams in 2010, when he conducted an interview with Marc Maron on the podcast WTF. He discussed his feelings during his heavy battle with addiction and following his heart operation, which occurred in the same year. The actor relayed to Maron his contemplation of ending his life in order to end his struggles; these were thoughts he eventually worked through, managing to overcome these feelings in order to live his life the best he could.
It is not yet known the full effect Parkinson’s disease had taken on Robin Williams before his death. However, his wife and family are still asking for privacy and consideration in their time of grief.
by Rebecca Grace