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Robin Williams laughing. The best way to remember him.

Since Robin Williams died this past Monday, many fans have struggled to understand. The internet have overflowed with theories and speculation: he was drinking again, on drugs again, having money problems, on and on. A statement issued today by Williams’ widow, Susan Schneider, offers some deeper insight:

“Robin spent so much of his life helping others. Whether he was entertaining millions on stage, film or television, our troops on the frontlines, or comforting a sick child — Robin wanted us to laugh and to feel less afraid.

Since his passing, all of us who loved Robin have found some solace in the tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration for him from the millions of people whose lives he touched. His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles.

Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.

It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid.”

Parkinson’s Disease causes a progressive neurological degeneration in its sufferers. Though early stage symptoms can be as small as tremors or facial tics. Though it’s often a slow degeneration, it can progress quickly and, in its worst case, the patient can lose the ability to speak, may stop having automatic movements like blinking or smiling, and it can leave the sufferer unable to control movements, with stiffened and painful muscles. Severe cases can lead to the patient being essentially straight-jacketed within his own body. The cause(s) of Parkinson’s Disease are, as yet, unknown, though heredity seems to play a key role. Though some medical treatments and a surgical option know as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) are available to alleviate or delay the onset of more serious symptoms, the disease is not curable. It’s a terrifying set of possibilities for anyone to face. Parkinson’s can also cause severe depression.

Again, if you are suffering depression for any reason, or if you’re concerned about a friend or loved one, please, please ask for help. You can get help or advice, or someone to listen at 1-800-273-8275. Take care of each other.

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