Robin Williams’ son Zak has shared particulars about his late father, opening up about the actors’ mental well being struggles. Zak sat down for an interview with “The Genius Life” podcast on Wednesday, his dad’s birthday.
Both Zak and the host of the podcast, Max Lugavere, lost a mother or father to Lewy physique illness, a uncommon illness with signs that resemble Alzheimer’s illness and Parkinson’s illness.
Williams died by suicide in 2014 at 63 years previous. He had been recognized with Parkinson’s illness, however an post-mortem confirmed he had Lewy physique illness.
Zak stated he noticed “frustration” in his father when he was recognized with Parkinson’s illness.
“What he was going through didn’t match one to one [with] many Parkinson’s patients’…experience,” stated Zak, 38. “He felt frustrated.”
“There was a focus issue, that frustrated him. There were issues associated with how he felt. And also from a neurological perspective, he didn’t he feel great,” stated Zak. “There was just more anxiety and depression and just things he was experiencing and talking to me about that made me realize he was very uncomfortable.”
“At least from my lens, what I found was someone who was having challenges performing his craft. And that was really irritating for him,” stated Zak. “When you’re performer, it goes beyond pride in what you’re performing, it’s your livelihood.”
Williams’ spouse, Susan Schneider Williams, wrote a paper revealed by the American Academy of Neurology, explaining her husband’s Lewy physique analysis.
“As you may know, my husband Robin Williams had the little-known but deadly Lewy body disease (LBD). 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,” she writes.
She stated Williams had many signs that might come and go, together with a slight tremor in his left hand. She defined that an individual’ analysis with Parkinson’s versus Lewy physique relied on what signs they offered first. Because he first confirmed bodily signs, Williams was initially recognized with Parkinson’s illness.
“Prior history can also complicate a diagnosis,” Susan says, including that Williams had a historical past of melancholy that had not been lively for six years, however got here again months before he died.
People with Parkinson’s illness usually present many adjustments in the brain, in line with the Mayo Clinic. One doable change is the presence of Lewy our bodies, or clumps of particular substances inside brain cells which can be microscopic markers of Parkinson’s illness.
Researchers consider Lewy our bodies might maintain a clue to the reason behind Parkinson’s illness. However, Lewy our bodies may trigger Lewy physique dementia. An post-mortem three months after Williams’ death confirmed he had this, fairly than Parkinson’s illness.
“Clinically he had PD, but pathologically he had diffuse LBD. The predominant symptoms Robin had were not physical—the pathology more than backed that up. However you look at it—the presence of Lewy bodies took his life,” she writes.
Zak stated being recognized with Parkinson’s was “a period for him of intense searching and frustration.”
“I wanted to be there for him on a daily basis. I really wanted to because it can be really isolating, even if you’re with family and loved ones,” Zak stated.
He additionally opened up about how his father’s suicide affected his personal mental well being. “I was self-medicating through the trauma using alcohol,” he stated. Zak stated he noticed a psychiatrist, and was recognized with post-traumatic stress dysfunction after his father’s death.
He stated he enrolled in a 12-step program and attended group remedy. “I was just sick and tired of trying to treat myself using harmful means,” he stated.
He additionally spoke about the stigma round mental well being – particularly for males. “I think many [men] feel isolated; many don’t have the outlets needed,” he stated, including that many lack entry to inexpensive mental well being resources.
Zak started working with mental well being organizations, together with Bring Change 2 Mind, which makes use of multimedia campaigns and develops youth packages to encourage conversations round mental well being.
“I actually found myself committing time to mental health advocacy as a means of healing that trauma,” he stated. “For me, it was very healing.”
On Wednesday, Zak posted a birthday message for his father on Instagram. “Dad, on what would be your 70th birthday, I would want you to know that your incredible spirit lives within us,” he wrote. “Our family will be celebrating you and your memory today. We miss you and love you always!”