KUSA - Robin Williams' widow revealed on Thursday what her husband was going through in the days before he ended his life. His wife, Susan Schneider, announced that Williams had not only been dealing with anxiety and depression, but also the early stages of Parkinson's disease.
A Denver woman says she has experienced first-hand the struggle that disease can bring, especially when mixed with depression. Diane Cook has been living with Parkinson's for six years.
"We can always remember the day that we were diagnosed, because it changes your life," she said.
For Cook, that day came on her 65th birthday.
"It just really takes the wind out of you," she said. "I remember coming home and everyone was having a birthday party for me, and I was in such shock. I didn't say anything to anyone."
What followed, she said, was a sense of despair.
"I did get depressed," Cook said. "I think the thing that depressed me the most was I was afraid I wouldn't be able to hold my grandchildren, and that they wouldn't trust me with my grandchildren."
Cook said that lasted for several weeks and then she decided to seek professional medical help and reach out to support groups. She has since become what she calls a "Parkinson's disease advocate," helping others who have been diagnosed through the Parkinson Association of the Rockies.
"It can be devastating, because your whole perception of yourself changes," she said.
Over time, the disease can rob you of control over your body and voice. Both were crucial to the acting and comedic performances of Robin Williams. What role Parkinson's may have played at the end of his life is not known.
Despite the fact that there is no cure for the disease, Cook said she holds on to the possibility of one in the future.
"The Michael J. Fox Foundation is very involved in research, and they've got their eye on a cure," she said. "So, I think we're all holding out hope. If we can keep ourselves together before that occurs, then there will be no more Parkinson's."
In a statement on Thursday, actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's, said he was stunned to learn of Williams' diagnosis.
"Pretty sure his support for [our foundation] predated his diagnosis," Fox tweeted. "A true friend; I wish him peace."
Robin Williams had a history of depression that stretched back well before his Parkinson's diagnosis. A National Parkinson's Foundation study concluded about half of those diagnosed with the disease also suffer from clinical depression.
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