Widowed AF

#79 - Rhiannon Williams

November 20, 2023 Rosie Gill-Moss Season 1 Episode 79
#79 - Rhiannon Williams
Widowed AF
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Widowed AF
#79 - Rhiannon Williams
Nov 20, 2023 Season 1 Episode 79
Rosie Gill-Moss

Join Rosie Gill-Moss in this episode of 'Widowed AF' as she welcomes Rhiannon Williams, whose story of love and loss echoes with profound rawness and authenticity. Rhiannon delves into her whirlwind romance with Leighton, painting a vivid picture of a relationship filled with boundless love, overshadowed by the looming challenges of mental health struggles. 

As she recounts the heart-wrenching journey through Leighton's battle and its tragic culmination, the conversation takes us through a labyrinth of emotions – from the dizzying highs of deep connection to the devastating lows of loss and grief. 

This episode not only explores the personal impact of bereavement but also casts a light on the broader issues surrounding mental health and societal support systems. Rosie and Rhiannon's dialogue invites listeners to understand the complexities of navigating life after losing a partner, offering insights into resilience, hope, and the ongoing process of healing.



Web: (https://www.widowedaf.com)
Instagram (@widowed_af)
Watch on (YouTube)

Don't forget to subscribe !

Show Notes Transcript

Join Rosie Gill-Moss in this episode of 'Widowed AF' as she welcomes Rhiannon Williams, whose story of love and loss echoes with profound rawness and authenticity. Rhiannon delves into her whirlwind romance with Leighton, painting a vivid picture of a relationship filled with boundless love, overshadowed by the looming challenges of mental health struggles. 

As she recounts the heart-wrenching journey through Leighton's battle and its tragic culmination, the conversation takes us through a labyrinth of emotions – from the dizzying highs of deep connection to the devastating lows of loss and grief. 

This episode not only explores the personal impact of bereavement but also casts a light on the broader issues surrounding mental health and societal support systems. Rosie and Rhiannon's dialogue invites listeners to understand the complexities of navigating life after losing a partner, offering insights into resilience, hope, and the ongoing process of healing.



Web: (https://www.widowedaf.com)
Instagram (@widowed_af)
Watch on (YouTube)

Don't forget to subscribe !

Rosie Gill-Moss:

hello, and a very warm welcome back to Widowed AF. You're here with your host, Rosie Gill Moss, and joining me today, I'm going to be speaking with Rhiannon. Hello, Rhiannon.

Rhiannon Williams:

Good morning, Rosie.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

welcome to the podcast. Now, just before we get going, I have been asked by the, uh, Alive Husband, if you would be kind enough to like and subscribe wherever you listen to our podcast. Um, it just helps us get noticed a bit because we have a very high listenership, but we aren't really getting noticed. So if you would be kind enough to do that, dear listeners, we would be most grateful. But anyway, back to the matter in hand. So, Rhiannon, how are you today?

Rhiannon Williams:

I'm okay, thank you, Rosie. Yeah, today's not a bad day.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

So, full disclosure, Rihanna and I have already spoken, we recorded a few weeks ago, um, but Rihanna was on holiday and unfortunately the recording just, it, it, there was, it just didn't work out. So I have actually heard your story already, which is quite a, an unusual situation to go into to do this. But I'm hoping it means that we'll both be a bit more relaxed and, um, and I mean, I, I know what's coming and it, it is one hell of a story. So. Buckle up guys, pour yourselves a cup of tea and um, I'm gonna ask Rhiannon to start off from the beginning.

Rhiannon Williams:

Thanks, Rosie. Um, the beginning, I suppose. Right, so start from the beginning of, um, of my relationship then with Leighton, who's my late partner. Um, we weren't married. We met in 2019, um, and had a whirlwind romance that got very serious very quickly. Um, and we moved in together in my home, um, towards the end of 2019. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

It was in three, within three months

Rhiannon Williams:

it really, yeah, it was, and I mean, this is, this is not me. I'm obviously a bit older. I've had relationships in the past, um, and this was very much not how I, Normally um, go into relationships, but it was just, I don't know, one of those corny love at first sight. You know, you when you know, you know, situations. Um, and yeah, it got very intense very quickly.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I, you did put at the beginning in your application form, um, That you weren't married, so were you even a widow? Um, and I have already said this to you, but yes, categorically, of course you are. Anybody who's in a romantic relationship, whatever their sex, gender, identity, Um, if you lose somebody you love, in our world, you're considered a widow, so.

Rhiannon Williams:

thank you, Rosie.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

so, you've told me a little bit about Leighton, and he was kind of quite a vibrant character, wasn't he?

Rhiannon Williams:

certainly was

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah? So tell our listeners a little bit about him.

Rhiannon Williams:

Um, so I, I mean, where do I start? There's so many aspects. He was, he was just the most kind person. Really is how I would say, begin. He would give, give and do anything to anyone. And he had temps of energy. Um, And he would always, you know, direct that way, where he felt it was needed, people in need. Me, looking after me when I was unwell, he was just, just incredibly kind. He was also, um, one of the most intelligent people I think I've ever met. Um, although not classically, you know, hadn't been to university, but we would sit for hours and talk about, all sorts of politics, geopolitics, you know, lots of history, anything, you name it, he, he knew so much about. Um, and he was also then incredibly physically capable. He could build things out of nothing. I'd come home from work and he would have, you know, completely and utterly, you know, done a DIY SOS on a whole room in the house and built things from, yeah, he was

Rosie Gill-Moss:

you tell me you could cook and then you're

Rhiannon Williams:

Oh, he could cook

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Man, right?

Rhiannon Williams:

Well, yeah, he could cook as well. Rosie, he was a, he was a dub hand in the kitchen too. Yeah. There was just, yeah. All pretty much Perfect. Perfect. Um, in all those aspects. Yeah. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And now, obviously,

Rhiannon Williams:

And

Rosie Gill-Moss:

things didn't stay perfect. Um, and later than, um, he struggled with his mental

Rhiannon Williams:

he? did. he? did. So yeah,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

is that something that you knew about when you began your relationship? Were there signs of it initially?

Rhiannon Williams:

signs were there. There were some sort of flags and it was something that I'd spoken to him about. Um, from the beginning of our relationship and questioned, he never had anything diagnosed, but he'd had quite a traumatic life. Um, so my kind of understanding was that he probably did have some kind of mental health condition. Um, But, yeah, he, he not ever really engaged with services and tried to, you know, as men do, I think, um, keep it, keep it to themselves, try to, try to manage, um, without, you know, without talking about their feelings, which as we know, I think, you know, is quite often a recipe for disaster. So,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

see it all the time in couple friends I have where, you know, perhaps they might be having marital problems or there's some issues going on and they're quite keen to pursue some therapy and the men are just like, no, don't want anybody lowering my personal business and it's quite, it's really common and it's that sign of weakness and what will my mates think? It's changing, but it's not changing very quickly. Yes.

Rhiannon Williams:

fast enough. And yeah, interesting you should say that actually, at one point during our relationship, when he'd had what I sort of refer to as an episode, um, when we were coming out of one of those at that point, uh, one of the really difficult things was it would always be, uh, is, is, is, is, Problems would always be around kind of attachment and, um, and insecurities and, and things. So, um, our relationship was often a target of his mental health. If you like, he would, um, he would become really insecure and concerned about our relationship and, and whether I was leaving him. And that, that was never, ever in question. Um, and that would. sort of build into these intrusive thoughts in his head. So on a number of occasions I'd even suggested, look, we'll go to couples therapy if you don't think it's a mental health problem with you. If you think it's our relationship, let's go to couples therapy. But again, it was, you know, all those suggestions were swept under the carpet by him. And it's really difficult to try and get somebody

Rosie Gill-Moss:

can't force somebody, you cannot, you can't force somebody to go to rehab, you can't force somebody to go to therapy. You can put all the path work and the strategies in place, but if they don't want to do it, it's, you know, it's, if you've got somebody in active addiction, you could force them into rehab, but they're only going to go back to it when they come out. It's, you have to walk through that door, don't you, or make that choice.

Rhiannon Williams:

Indeed.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

So, talk to me a little bit about. What happened? How, um, how you, things, um, how your relationship went on, when things started to deteriorate? Um, just talk to me a little bit about what happened.

Rhiannon Williams:

So, obviously, in going into 2020, we went, everyone went into lockdown. Um, I think that probably had a profound effect on Leyton as well. Um, We were both working, um, he was working in the building industry at the time. Um, and he'd got into, I don't think we discussed this last time actually, Um, he'd got into a bit of an argument with his employer around COVID restrictions and COVID rules in relation to, um, being furloughed or working if you're not working a, um, you know, a job that is necessary. I can't remember the term for it now.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I can't remember what the term was, was it, it was,

Rhiannon Williams:

I should know, I'm one, I work in the

Rosie Gill-Moss:

oh my god,

Rhiannon Williams:

Um, but yeah, we all know what I mean. Um, so yeah, I was working in the NHS and he was incredibly proud that I was doing that. And he was working in the building industry. Um, and after the first couple of weeks of lockdown when they sort of... started opening up the workplace for non essential workers. That's, that's the word, essential workers. So he questioned whether building new homes and things was actually essential work and also questioned the COVID regulations that were put in place to allow them socially distance and, you know, that sort of thing. Um, and effectively what happens after that is, I think there was a, you know, after he was sort of trying to whistleblow on that, he was managed out of the company, um, in, in so many ways and he lost his job. Um, that was after a long period of being, um, suspended. So he did spend lockdown at home. He was with my children most days whilst I was out, I was at work. Um, but in about July, um, he had the, the, you know, the last, uh, meeting where he was dismissed for misconduct. Um, which I do believe was farcical, but,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh, almost certainly. And because it's such a male, being the provider, being able to bring in money, and also, um, it's very isolating being stuck at home. And particularly if you're out at work, and he must have been worried about you working out in the NHS, particularly when, you know, we didn't know who it was going to take down and when.

Rhiannon Williams:

No, no, I'm thinking back at those days where I would kind of de

Rosie Gill-Moss:

at the door.

Rhiannon Williams:

and run into the shower before touching anything or anyone. You know, really was strange times.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

spray in your Amazon packages,

Rhiannon Williams:

yep, absolutely. Um, so yeah. He, he lost his job then in July, quickly, yeah, again, I, I was worried about him, tried to talk to him about that. He was like, no, I'll be fine. I'll just get another job contracting, which he did. But there were some struggles around that and he didn't have transport either. So, um, we bought a little van that I, um, that I, that I got, uh, just a little run around that he could use the work. Um, And also, we were going to try and kit it out and make a little stealth camper because, you know, we like to get away and, you know, we were still in this kind of weird lockdown and, you know, that was the sort of things we would do. So we, yeah, got this little van and in September, we'd gone away for a beautiful long weekend away just before the second wave of local lockdowns. Um, or it was actually happening whilst we, it came into force whilst we were away, I think. Um. He'd planned out this entire trip, you know, I live in Wales, um, but in South Wales, and I'd never actually been to North Wales at this time, so that was something I wanted to do. And I'd said I wanted to go to the train station with a really long name.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh yeah, I made you say it last

Rhiannon Williams:

he

Rosie Gill-Moss:

gotta say it.

Rhiannon Williams:

did! Do it again? Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogeryllwyndrobwllantysiliogogogogoch.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

That's wonderful.

Rhiannon Williams:

that was,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

if... Sorry. I dunno if you know this, but my late husband spoke fluent Welsh.

Rhiannon Williams:

oh really?

Rosie Gill-Moss:

yeah, they moved from Manchester to North Wales when he was young and him and his brother learned, they, they obviously had languages'cause they both learned French as well. But um, they learned to speak Welsh'cause the old ladies would give them sweets'cause they were so touched that they

Rhiannon Williams:

Oh, wow. Yeah, no, I remember you saying that they'd lived in North Wales, but I don't remember you saying they were fluent in Welsh. I'm not. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Well, it's how they used to have covert conversations.

Rhiannon Williams:

Yeah, yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Anyway, sorry, I digress.

Rhiannon Williams:

okay. So, so yeah, off the back of me saying that I wanted to go there to the place with the longest name, he planned this whole itinerary of travelling all throughout Wales, you know, north, east, south, west, middle, mid Wales. To all the largest and biggest and greatest things that there are, so the highest waterfall, the biggest lake, you know, the, um, the highest mountain that, you know, so he'd done all of that and I had to do no

Rosie Gill-Moss:

of extremes.

Rhiannon Williams:

great. Yes. Yes. Well, you know, this was late. He was a man of extremes. Yeah, so, and it was wonderful. Um, and then we, we got back from that weekend, well, no, we didn't get back from that weekend, um, when we were in North Wales and just about to return, um, the clutch packed in on the, on the van. Um, and we hadn't got roadside cover for the van. I don't know why. Um, talked about it, but didn't actually. Put it on the insurance policy or organize it and thought, ah, we'll be fine. It'll be fine. Um, so yeah, there was, there was no clutch on the van in North Wales. So I was doing my usual stress. What are we going to do? I've got work in, I've got work tomorrow. Um, and he's like, babe, everything will be fine. I'll get us home. Um, I will get us home. Don't worry. Um, and I didn't even know you could drive a car without a clutch or change gear. without using a clutch. but apparently if you get the revs just right and the speed just right to change gear You can change gear without a clutch So as long as we keep moving or if we stop I can sort of bumps jump start it You know in second gear and get it going I'll get us home and he did he drove home from North Wales without without a clutch on the car he

Rosie Gill-Moss:

So he was quite good in a crisis then, he was quite...

Rhiannon Williams:

Yeah, he was. I'm a worrier and I'm a, I'm a panicker. So we, we complimented each other really, really well in that sort of sense. So, you know, I'm, I'm pretty good at a crisis, but I'm a worrier and I'm an overthinker and a planner. And sometimes I plan so much that, you know, things don't happen at all. Whereas Layton's just, well, this has happened. We've got to get on with it. So let's see what we can do. Yeah, let's see what we can do. Um, and yeah, and he did. He drove all the way home. But unfortunately, I think it was the day after we got back from that trip. Um, he had a phone call to say that sadly one of his friends had taken their own life. Um, and I think that obviously affected him quite deeply. It was somebody that I didn't know well. Um, But he, he's, he's, he's started to deteriorate, I would say, from that point, which is, but that's obvious, you expect somebody to be sad and up and down when they've, when they've had that news. Um, The following week, he was asked to host, uh, a sort of covert memorial celebration in his flat that he still owned in, in the centre of town. Um, where he quite used to, when I was talking about him earlier, one of the things I didn't mention is he was really quite big on the, um, sort of underground music scene where we live. Um, he's a DJ and an MC, um, and he was well known for hosting. Sort of after parties and things at the end of the, at the end of the night on weekends and yeah, having lots of, lots of fun there. So his, yeah, his flat basically was, was a party space. Um, so the partner of his friend that had, that had passed away had asked if he, because they, you know, couldn't have, funerals, really weren't supposed to get together, um, had

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I

Rhiannon Williams:

him to, yeah, that's, you know, gone are those

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I think we're

Rhiannon Williams:

look what the politicians did at that time. Um, but yeah, that was, that was the ask and he was keen to do that, but I could see his mental health deteriorated over that week. And on that Friday morning, he really didn't want to get up and do this. tried to say to him that you don't have to do that, you know, if you, if you're not up for it, you don't have to do it. Um, you know, nobody will think any less of you, but, but he wanted to anyway. Um, so, so he did and. Yeah, he, he, he fell into what, what I would call one of these episodes with me on that night then. Um, thinking that I was leaving him when I, because I wanted to go home at about midnight. Um, I was tired. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

late for me these days.

Rhiannon Williams:

oh yeah, yeah. Um, he,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

there's some sort of recreational, um, stimulants happening here, which is obviously not going to have a massively good

Rhiannon Williams:

Yeah, Leighton did, did use cocaine on a semi frequent basis. I wouldn't say it was an addiction. It was a, you know, it was recreational use. Yeah, absolutely. And he did drink a fair bit. And I think all those things probably really were, um, attempts to self regulate or, or numb or, you know.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

When we spoke last time, I said, you know, a lot of his behaviours are really reminiscent of, um, ADHD. You know, the, um, the sort of part, you know, the, the, the, smiling clown. Is that the right analogy? You know, where you're sort of the life and soul of the party. Um, and, you know, things like the excessive drinking and, and drug taking. And you, you touched earlier that you had a very traumatic, um, start in life, and that can lead to, to conditions like ADHD or very complex conditions, so, um, but, uh, yeah, people with ADHD aren't very good at doing what's good for them, they

Rhiannon Williams:

No,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

doing a lot more of

Rhiannon Williams:

Self sabotage, absolutely, was, was, was definitely something that comes to mind. Um, and I knew some of that already and at the time I was, and I'd spoken to him about it as well. I have a son with ADHD and interestingly you know, he, he was a wonderful stepdad to, to all three of my children but the relationship that he had with Max, um, my middle child who's has ADHD, he wouldn't mind me saying that on here, but I won't talk too much about that. Um, but their relationship, their bond was, you know, it was phenomenal that, you know, the two of them just have this

Rosie Gill-Moss:

spirit.

Rhiannon Williams:

yeah. Um, so yeah, it was definitely something that I queried with, you know, with him at the time, um, and certainly still believe that to be the now. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

even if he'd been prepared to pursue that option, we all know what the wait times are like we all know that the treatment's screwed. Um, my son has, uh, ADHD and um, I'd like him to have the opportunity to try medication, but at the moment they are just you. I get a text sometimes saying My meds are out stocked till November and I have to go through titration again. So,

Rhiannon Williams:

It's crazy, um, so, so yeah that was, so he'd, he'd had a complete meltdown and I think this is probably something that I want to talk about, um, because when we do talk in general terms about mental health, um, and trying to support people with mental health, often if you've not seen that or experienced that, there's almost the platitudes of, you know, check in, ask someone if they're okay, um, and people think depression is. is what causes people to maybe, you know, have suicidal thoughts or, or, or, or take their lives. Um, I don't think necessarily that's the full story. Um, certainly in Leighton's case, I think it was more this, you know, a complete and utter... I've talked to other people in the suicide community. It's like they've had a heart attack in their brain. It's just gone bang. Um, you know, and... Things have just gone totally wrong in that wiring. You know, loss of impulse control, which is again what you, you know, what you have in your ADHD or similar conditions. Um, completely out of control thoughts. Yeah, I think he was going, he'd fallen into a, potentially a psychotic episode, um, the night he died. Um, and of course, if he was depressed and sad and really needing somebody to just hold and give him a hug all night, then that's what would have happened. You know, I've done that with him plenty of times. Um, but, but his behavior. wasn't manifesting like that. His behavior actually, he wasn't him. He became dangerous, he became threatening, he became, um, just a completely different person. Um, and any attempts to calm that or resolve that with him was just making his behavior escalate, um, which was really frightening. Um, So, moving on from that, we were at my house the night that he passed away, the morning that he passed away. And he'd been, like I said, this, this had kind of been building over the, over the days leading up to that, but nothing that you could actually act on, it was just causing a lot of tension between us. Um, and any attempts, like I said, I was trying to make to pacify him or, or support him were,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

oil on a fire, isn't

Rhiannon Williams:

Yeah, really, really was. Um, or I'd just get silent treatment for hours and, and, and just be ignored. Um, it was very, very strange. Um, but yeah, the night that he died, there had actually been some movement the day before and he'd had periods of being... in a very good mood, a very jovial mood. He'd been, he'd been painting that afternoon, he'd been painting the hallway, and chatting to me about, sort of, plans to knock walls through in my living room and dining room. Let's do it, do things this way. How about we check that he was always doing this and that? Why don't we do this to the house? And I'm like, okay. Still, still, hello.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

idea.

Rhiannon Williams:

There's still seven projects on the go, Leighton. Can we get one of those finished first? Um, it's great, but my head can't, can't hold all this. I don't know how you can. Um, so yeah, he was talking about that and everything was fine. Um, and then about 10 o'clock in the evening, I said, I'm going to go to bed. And then his demeanor changed again, very rapidly. Um, and he began cycling through these really nasty, vicious name calling, um. delusional thoughts that were just coming out of nowhere that I couldn't, that I couldn't resolve with him. Um, and it went on and on and on for hours. Um, and like sort of escalated to the point where he was becoming really very threatening. My children were all in the house. You know, um, they're a bit older. I had one sort of actual adult child at the time who was 22. Um, and two teenage children who were... 14 and 16 at the time. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

that it was going on or were they in bed?

Rhiannon Williams:

I think they were, by the time that it had all escalated, I believe they were asleep. They were all in their rooms. I don't know whether they heard anything. Thankfully they didn't come out of their rooms. That was, that was my worry is that one of them would throw open my bedroom door and say, what on earth is going on in here? And they, and, and because of just how

Rosie Gill-Moss:

of his rage.

Rhiannon Williams:

um, you know, at the point where he'd sort of, I don't know, I remember the one thing he'd said is that he was going to slit the throat of the next person that walked in his room. Um, and I can just remember he said that, you know, very loudly and I was thinking, gosh, if my, if my eldest son comes up here now, what on earth could happen here? So I was like, this can't stay, we can't, we're not getting anywhere. I'm not, I'm not helping you. You're not calming down. And a few times where he'd had similar but nowhere near this level of episode in the past. What I'd learnt I needed to do was put space between us for, you know, half a day a day, let him cool down. Um. And then go back, talk about it, and try and, try and, you know, get some resolution. Um, and usually it would be fine, you know, it was normally me that felt a bit frustrated in the days afterwards, because he would almost try to ignore it had ever happened, and I would still remember, and be thinking, Yeah, but we'll talk about it next time. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

But how draining as well

Rhiannon Williams:

yeah,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

to, to not know when they're coming and, and to live this kind of combined life, it's almost Jekyll and Hyde life. I'm just, all I can, I'm sort of, it must have been very difficult for you, Leighton, of course it must, but for you, and I know that, um, If I have a full, um, meltdown, or, uh, and if my son who's also neurodivergent has one, we don't always remember, um, what happened. It's like a, I, actually when he was younger I used to say it's a bit like an exorcism because the demon would leave his body and my kid would come back. Um, and, so, you're left with kind of the full knowledge of what happened and he perhaps can't even remember doing it. And that must be very... Well, you're carrying all this bird and you're carrying everything right now. I'm feeling a lot for Rhiannon back then.

Rhiannon Williams:

Thanks Rosie. Yeah, it was a really, it was really difficult. I mean, I have to stress that these were episodic and they would be a couple of days at a time and then there'd be months of just my perfect man in between. Um, so yeah, it's really difficult to live with that. And also now to try to remember that, you know, that person that was the majority of the time, like you said, what perfect man. Um, So, yeah, and actually on that night, it's funny you should say that about the remembering because when I had tried to speak to him, um, over the sort of preceding days, when he sees, uh, the, you know, the days leading up to that, he, and he would forget, or seemingly have forgotten what had happened, so I'd be upset, and he'd be, well, why are you upset about that? And I went, well, because of what you said and what you did, and he would point blank blank deny it, so I'm sort of thinking,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh, so he wouldn't even acknowledge responsibility. That must be frustrating.

Rhiannon Williams:

you know, it almost felt like I was being gaslighted at certain points then. Um, so I'd actually started on, on the day that, the day before, um, that he died, I'd started to record some things that he was doing when he would dip into that, so that, you know, with the idea that when he had... Fully come out of it. I could say, look, you have to believe me that this is what happens when that, that, when, when this goes on, this is not right. You need help because that was, you know, that was always my, what I wanted to get to was to get him help and support so that he could manage that. And we could, you know, we could live a, you know, a happy life together.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

The problem is, I guess, when it's, um, not constant, when you're not constantly depressed, you believe that, oh, that's okay, that's done now. Um, and I talked to my brother about it because my brother and I both have struggled with mental health over the years and, um, we're like, yeah, we're not depressed, it's just some days you have suicidal thoughts. And, you know, we can talk about it quite flippantly because he's my brother, but it's, it's that not constant. Knowing what you're getting. Um, yeah. And, and, They're not a depressed person. It's just this kind of demon enters their brain every now and then and flips them. And it's, it, I mean, I've, I've never seen it happen apart from in a child. But I know how terrifying it can be. Um, just to see it like that. So yeah, you must, you must have been very frightened.

Rhiannon Williams:

it certainly was, it was frightening. So, yeah, going back to that night, um, I'd made a decision, um, a clear decision then that he needed to be removed from, from my home and spend some time alone to down from that, you know, that wherever he was. Um, Um, I would resume conversations with him the next day. Um, he had been drinking a bit as well. Um, and we didn't have the van because that was still in the garage. Um, so I said I'll take you back to your flat. Um, And I left the house and got in the car because I knew that he would follow me if I just say, yeah, just knowing his, his behaviours and what to do. I knew he would follow me out to the car anyway. So he came out to the car, um, got in the car and I began to drive him back to his flat, which is about a 20 minute drive from, from where I live. Um, His behavior, again, just continued to be changeable during the drive. Um, he became very upset then when he realized that I, you know, that was what was happening. Again, it sort of probably feeds into his feelings of rejection and abandonment that he, you know, he clearly suffered with. Um, But, you know, I felt and always did feel like,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

and your kids.

Rhiannon Williams:

yeah, um, and I, yeah, how long do you, yeah, I don't know. It's really, really difficult. Um, But I, you know, in my mind I've said I've made a decision, you can't be here tonight, this is not resolving. I've reached literally the very end of, of, of the line of what I can do here. Um, but during that car journey, um, things changed even more dramatically. He was... opening the car door and threatened to jump out whilst I was driving, pulling the steering wheel, pulling the handbrake whilst the car was moving. Um, we nearly crashed the car a few times because of that. Um, one point then when I'd pulled over because he'd opened the car door, he ran out of the car and into some woods on the side of the road. Um, and when he returned to the car, he had a blade in his hand and he had self harmed, um, quite significantly from what I saw very briefly, um, on his leg. So, at that point, uh, yeah. Yeah, the, the plan changed, and I was thinking, I need, this is, yeah, this is not like what we've had before, this is way worse, um, he seriously needs some help, and at least now there's something there, concrete, that I can go to a hospital, and say, yeah. He's not well. Um, so I attempted to take him to A& E, but the car journey continued in a similar fashion, and he was pulling on the wheel, pulling on the steering wheel, saying he wasn't going to go there. Um, saying all sorts of things that, um, really were just, um, It's just really frightening and, and concerning, um, and, and saying that he, you know, if I do, yeah, if you do that, that'll be the last thing I ever do. And, you know, basically the only option he was giving me was to take him back to my home, which I'd already said I can't do that in this situation. What else can I do? So, um, I... was, it was going through my head. What do I do? What do I do? How do I get him to the hospital in this state when he's refusing to go? It's not like he wants to get help, but he needs help. Um, I tried to covertly dial 999, hoping that they would pick up a location. Um, and sort of having, continuing to have conversations with him, but trying to... Make my, the things I was saying, alert the call handler at 999 to there being a serious problem and hope that they would, you know, follow that up. Um, and then he pulled the handbrake at one point, uh, and I stopped the car in the middle of the road where we were and just thought I'm gonna, I've still got this 999 call open. Somebody will, it was a Bain Road as well. It was about four o'clock in the morning though, so it was quiet, um, and not much on the road. But I thought. They will find me, they will see my car with the lights on in the middle of a three lane carriageway, and they will, somebody will come and help me and sort, and sort this out and get him help. Um, and sure enough, a police van, um, came driving past on the other side of the road about five minutes later. Um, And I beckoned them over and explained everything that has been happening over the sort of few days and, and, and how it had been escalating that night. Um, and, He said that I was trying to get him to the hospital, that he wouldn't go. Um, and explained all of the, you know, all of the events that had led up to where we were then. Um, and they very quickly said, we'll help you. Um, we'll take Leighton to the hospital in the van. Um, you follow behind us. Um, he was just wearing a dressing gown, nothing on his feet at this time. Um, and they sort of... As they were getting, checking him out before putting him in the van, um, which I now know is part of a sort of, part of policy of safety, they sort of gestured towards the, um, cord of his dressing gown, and, and sort of said, do you think this is safe to leave on him? And I said, no, I don't think it is. So they removed that from him before putting him in the van. Um, And then, yeah, I drove behind them, and this is, as I've said, this has been going on since the day before. I've been awake for 24 hours now and had at least 8 hours of constantly trying to manage this, this, this event that's been going on all night. Um, so I think I was just exhausted by that time. Um, and the sort of adrenaline must have just started to drain out of me when I got the relief that everything was going to be okay. And that I'd... managed to secure the help that he needed so that he would be sorted. Um, but yeah, that wasn't to be the case. We arrived at the hospital, um, And very quickly after I checked him in with the reception desk, um, Leighton changed behaviour again. He'd been quite submissive to the police officers initially and quite quiet. They'd noted him being upset and crying, curled up in the fetal position in the back of the van. Um, and he'd, you know, been quite acquiescent about going with him, with them, despite how... Absolutely determined he was when it was just him and I alone that he wasn't going to go. But when they arrived, he didn't kick up any fuss about going with them. But when we got to the hospital, he switched again and started to become quite angry and, um, and rude to the officers, um, demanding his rights and asking them what rights they had to detain him there. Um, And he began to film them, um, with my, with my mobile phone. Um, and I just think that they must have initially read the situation right, um, to do what they did, but then made some very big judgments and assumptions then on arrival at the hospital. Um, and their attitude just seemed to change. On a pinhead. Um, and they said that basically treating us, like treating him like he was a time-waster, um, and told him that he could go home. He walked out of a and EII was in a state of like, what, what, what, what planet are we on? What do you mean? And I questioned them. They spoke to their sergeant over the radio to ask if there was any more they could or should be doing. Um, but the response that I had was that he had capacity. He was choosing to not be there. That was up to him. They'd taken him to a place of safety. Um, and there was nothing more that they could do within their powers as police officers, um, to force him to. Get treatment. Um, so if he wanted to go home, he should go home and he should probably go home and just slip it off. Were the words that were used

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Wow. Um, and this is this dismissive attitude to mental health, isn't it? It's, um, pull yourself together and

Rhiannon Williams:

yeah. And particularly if it doesn't manifest as just some, as somebody who's, you know, desperately upset. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

as anger because I'm hearing, um, like the caged animal type thing where you get backed into a corner and you start sort of spitting and clawing and not literally.

Rhiannon Williams:

Mm-Hmm

Rosie Gill-Moss:

and it's I felt like that when I went to A& E, actually I presented at A& E for some help once and I ended up shouting at the staff and um, you know they threatened to detain me and it was really scary and it was a very scary experience so I would not I can't repeat for my mental health. Um, but there is actually, there is, there's the, a mental health act, which would, the police had the powers to detain him, didn't

Rhiannon Williams:

They did. So yeah, what we found later is that they absolutely did have the right to detain him. Um, and section 136 of the Mental Health Act, um, is exactly what that is for. When somebody is in a public place, um, displaying signs of serious mental illness, um, the police can detain them if they are a, you know, potentially a danger to themselves or a danger to others. Um, which... Yeah, I really, when I'm thinking, and when I was thinking about it at the time, I think he absolutely fits that criteria. He's already self harmed. He's already nearly killed

Rosie Gill-Moss:

a dressing gown bleeding and shouting? I mean, what more evidence do they need that this man needs mental health handbrake.

Rhiannon Williams:

Um, yeah, absolutely. But that is, yeah, that was, that was what they said. And we ended up, all of us, on the road outside A& E. Um, with nobody else around, um, with these two officers just walking away. Um, and he said, you know, again, this kind of belligerent attitude that he had when they finally did say, yes, Leighton, we've already told you, you can leave, um, and you can go home. Um, So, and he asked, you know, he then asked them, well, how am I supposed to get home? Um, because I'd already said he's not, I'm not taking him home with me. I'd already made that perfectly clear. Um, yeah, absolutely. I mean, I wish I hadn't now, but, um, you know, this is, this is where we are. Yeah, um, but yeah, that was, that was, that was exactly what I was doing at the time. I was putting safety boundaries in for me and my children. Um, so yeah, everybody there was well aware that I, I felt that there was no way I could remain with him that night. Um, so they told him to get a taxi. He said, well, look at me, just in my dressing gown. I haven't got a wallet, I haven't got a phone. How am I going to pay for a taxi? So their answer to that was. Well, walk then, Leighton. Um, and they started to walk away. Um, and they continued to walk away. Um, so at that point, you know, it was October, it was raining. As much as I didn't feel safe. I thought, you know, and, and again, trying to manage his fears around rejection and things. I was like, love, I love you. I, I just can't be with you in this state. I will drive you back to your flat if that's the only option we've got, but I'm not staying there. Um, so I drove him back to his flat. Again, putting myself right back in that. danger zone again, it felt. So, um, I'm, I'm dropped him off at his flat. Um, and the last time that I saw him, I was driving away and he was running down the road again, still barefoot chasing after my car. Um, And about 10 15 minutes after that I was sort of driving towards home, but really just driving aimlessly because I was sort of just trying to process everything that had happened and how on earth was that allowed to happen? Why is, yeah, why did that happen in that way? Um, what can I do next? I've already called the police, they've told me that we're both overreacting. Um, But after a few minutes of, like I said, processing everything, I was like, no, this is just not right. Um, so I called the police back. Um, and I think, you know, having listened back now through the inquest to those calls that I made, um, I can sort of hear, could hear the desperation in my voice for, to be, you know, to have this heard for what it really was. Um, you know, having said to them in, in quite, Yeah, quite calm terms, which was one of the things I was criticised for, um, was

Rosie Gill-Moss:

What, for being too calm?

Rhiannon Williams:

yeah, because when I was interacting with the police at the, you know, I didn't seem too, too, too upset or too worried or too, you know, I wasn't, I wasn't going, screaming and shouting at things because I was...

Rosie Gill-Moss:

has to stay semi sane,

Rhiannon Williams:

Well, yeah, and that's, that's exactly it. So, you know, I can remember at the time thinking I have to keep a cool head and explain everything logically so that they don't just see two completely. You know, and think that it's, it's a domestic situation where they've both been drinking too much or something like that. So that, that whole interaction, I was trying to just be factual, be calm, state the facts, tell them what I thought, you know, in the same way that I would manage a crisis in work. Um, you know, flipped into work mode really when I was. You know, talking to them, um, initially when, when we had the, the interaction before and at the hospital. Um, But by, you know, after I'd left and still was thinking, Oh my God, they really haven't read this situation, right? It's not safe to leave him. Um, so I rang back and I think my, one of the, you know, they asked me what the concern is. And I think the first thing that I blurted out is that my concern is the next person that walks into his flat is going to find him dead. Um, that is my concern and it's a real concern. Um, Because clearly me saying that he'd been threatening to kill himself on the way there hadn't been enough. So, you know, I think by that point it was desperate language that I was, you know, that I was using. Um, so they, they, they dispatched the same two officers to go and do a welfare check. Um, I decided that I needed to go back there as well as because if police were going to try and enter his property, it would probably, and I didn't want to leave him. The last thing I wanted to do was leave him, but I just couldn't be alone with him. Um, when, when I did, when he was so unpredictable and volatile, so I didn't want him to feel abandoned by me. He hadn't been abandoned by me, you know, in my eyes and that's something I'll always live with is perhaps that's how he felt in that moment. Um, but that was not. The, you know, that was not the reality of it. Um, so I went back and we tried to get in. And, uh, you know, again, knocking windows, knocking doors. Couldn't get a response from inside the flat. They searched the area in case he hadn't gone back in there. Um, and had gone walking somewhere else. Um, didn't, still didn't seem to be a great deal of urgency from these two officers. Um, And again, I probably wasn't kicking up enough of a fuss myself, I don't think, I was just being led, and I think by that point I was just like a rabbit in the headlights, did not

Rosie Gill-Moss:

you were probably just in autopilot. It's, you know, like these situations where the police come to tell you that somebody's died and you put the kettle on. It's, you go into a, a strangely calm autopilot.

Rhiannon Williams:

yeah, I, yeah, absolutely, and I just think by that time, yeah, my, my, my, I'd had a meltdown internally, you wouldn't see it as, you know, you know, outside to announce it, but I think I just, you know, was it flight, fight or fawn? I think I just went into fawn, fawn mode and was like, right, okay, what do, what do we do? Um, so yeah, it was about 90 minutes all in all that we were outside the flat and couldn't gain entry. They did call for sort of, More senior officers who were able to, um, break and enter into the property for quite some time. Um, shift change actually, funnily enough. Um, um, yeah, so, 90 minutes after we did, oh God.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

so I'm just going, so for 90 minutes you're stood outside this flat not knowing whether he's... What state he's in. Um, you've got police officers there. And they, they're, they're not breaking and entering.

Rhiannon Williams:

No, they've tried to kick the door, they've bounced. They did manage to get during that time, it's an old Victorian house, with three flats over three levels, so there's like a, a, a, a, an outside door at the front that is the communal front door. So during that time they'd managed to get in through the communal door, um, and then got to the front door of his flat, which was the ground floor. Um, And tried, again, tried knocking, shouting through the letterbox. Um, yeah, and, yeah, time, I, I really, it's only in, sort of, in, in afterwards when I've looked through the paperwork. So I think it was about 70 minutes in total by the time that they called for backup. And then 90 minutes by the time that the backup arrived and they actually got into the house, uh, got into the flat. So, yeah, for an hour they were dithering and you had to kind of. To go from the back of the flat to the front of the flat walk out, um, at the rear of the property round another big Victorian house. So, you know, there was a lot of walking back and forth from the front to the back, trying windows, trying to prize windows open where they could, yeah, they weren't, not trying, but they just didn't seem to be a huge urgency and certainly looking.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

my Victorian flat that sounds very similar and I used to be able to kick the door in. So... Because I used to lock myself out all the time.

Rhiannon Williams:

Yeah. Um. Yeah, so, but his, his actual flat door at the front was a composite door that he'd fitted there a couple of months ago, so there was no way that was being kicked through. Um, I did think you could probably kick the back door in, and I'd suggested that to these officers at the time, but that hadn't happened. And again, we didn't know if he was in there. They kept saying, well, he could have gone wandering down the street. You last saw him outside, so we don't even know if he's there. Um, And yeah, it was this weird, like, you know, Schrödinger's cat situation, I suppose, at that time. Um, until you find, find out what's in there. It's either in there or not in there. Um, and, and what, and in what state, you don't know. Um, but yeah, I mean, that was obviously my ultimate fear, is, is that he, he may have taken his own life in there. He had, had a history of... I, I knew of one episode in his past where he'd, um, made a serious attempt on his life about seven or eight years previously. Um, and it came to light afterwards that that wasn't the only time, um, either, um, there had been other attempts at various other points, but yeah, it was obviously, but that was my biggest worry. But in that moment, you are desperately just hoping that that's a

Rosie Gill-Moss:

he's passed out or he's gone out for a walk.

Rhiannon Williams:

Or just ignoring everyone because that would be what you would do sometimes, I don't know, but I just didn't, I didn't, I didn't want to entertain that, that, that thought really, um, so yeah, and I think like I said, I just found myself in this kind of frozen state, waiting for, you know, I've done what I can do, I've got the emergency services, I've got the police, what more can I do, um, and, and hand over to them and hope that they do everything right, which, yeah. Yeah, that, that didn't happen on, on the two sort of interactions, either at the hospital or, or, or later, really. Um, but yeah, they, they, they finally did call for backup from the firearms team. Not because they thought he had a firearm, but because they, they carry all of the equipment and are, um, higher trained to break into properties, um, with various different methods. Um, and yeah, they, they got into his... It's flat at around about quarter to eight in the morning. Um, and yeah, found, found him. Um, I'd been instructed to sit and wait in my car about 20 minutes, half an hour before that. Um, because, you know, there was nothing more that I could do. And I think they'd noticed that I was shivering and cold because I wasn't really dressed appropriately either. Um, so they told me to sit And wait. Yeah. And shark, I suppose. So yeah, the, I saw the firearms team go to the back of the property and, and use their, their Ramit device to smash the back door through. Um, and I think it was probably within about 10 or 15 seconds of that, I, I, I knew that something was desperately wrong because had he been alive in there? I would have heard him probably making, um, a lot of fuss over that and I was expec oh, hoping... to hear lots of, um, expletives, and yeah, um, and didn't, there was just silence. Um, and a couple of minutes later, an officer, a female officer, walked past, towards my car, um, but was about to walk past me, and I stopped her and said, What's going on? Um, and you can tell, can't you? You know, you can see it in people's faces, but you need to have the confirmation. Um, And she said some, you know, my colleague will come and speak to you now. Um, but I, I think I just demanded that she told me because it was so obvious. Um, and then, yeah, it was just like a, a, again, another avalanche then of, oh my God. And you know, that, that scream, that, that realization that the thing that you've been sat and worrying about for so long and don't want to believe might have happened. You've just had the comfort feeling. Confirmation that, that, that that's happened, right? And, yeah, it, um, yeah, it just, the whole world just bottomed out at that point, I think.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I, I just, I'm so sorry. And the, like you say there, you know, the worst thing that you can possibly imagine happening has just happened. And it's happened amongst such chaos. And, I don't, I can't, I just, It's not peaceful. It wasn't a

Rhiannon Williams:

no, no, that's it. And that's, yeah, I think that's part of the, the added layer to this kind of grief, I suppose, is, is that you, you know, and you hope that they were just totally not in their right mind to even realize, but you, you know, at least when somebody dies. Um, a peaceful death or, or even not a peaceful death. They don't die feeling alone and abandoned and like, you know, and like for whatever reason, they, they are better off dead than alive. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

and it's got such a stigma, suicide. It's, um, and John himself said, you know, he always thought of it as being quite a selfish act. But as we've gone deeper into talking to the survivors left behind, and looking into mental health and how... How your own brain can just do such terrible things to you, and in the flick of a moment, um, The wonderful woman I spoke to in America whose husband was on the phone asking for help, and within seconds shot himself, because you can, reaching out for help and not getting it is terrifying.

Rhiannon Williams:

feels like, to me, I think, you know, it's, it's hope. Is that, and I know you've talked a lot about hope, um. But there must be something in the mind, what the minute that hope seems to be completely lost is when, when it becomes the seemingly sane or right thing to do, which obviously isn't. Um, but I think you know and certainly having had my own battles since and you know I'm not, I, I suffered dreadfully in the months after Layton passed away. Um, you know, and interestingly, survivors of. Suicide bereavement are much more likely to die by suicide themselves. I didn't know that before. Um, so, you know, and I had my own, um, brushes with those, um, with those thoughts. And I've not, never had them before, but never, never to the point where I really could have acted on them. And I think that did. And it was, it, to me, it seemed like the hope that life could be... Okay, or better, or that these thoughts and pain because it was I can remember being in such physical pain. Um, that I just wanted that to stop and couldn't couldn't compute in my mind. I would have to live another day in that amount of pain. Um. And yeah, I think for a lot, and having spoken to a lot of people in the suicide bereavement community since, there does seem to be that, that moment, whether rightly or wrongly, you feel like hope has just completely eluded you. There's no way out of the situation you're in. There's no way to calm those demons in your head. There's no way, whatever it is that is the sort of... I suppose trigger, um, to put you in that state, it seems to me a lot of the time is that that sense that there is no more hope left, um, that seems to allow people's brains to, to do that to themselves because we are wired for survival. It's, it's completely against every survival mechanism in our body. So to think that. It's selfish, you know, you have to look at it as a, as an illness and, and, uh, uh, we, we don't understand the brain. I mean,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

illness sometimes, isn't it?

Rhiannon Williams:

you.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And you talk about feeling some elements of guilt, um, about leaving him, about taking him to the flat, and I don't know if I'm even in a position to alleviate you of guilt, I'm not a priest, it's not confession, but, if I can in some way tell you that I don't think you deserve to feel guilty, I think that you deserve to feel pride in how much you've cared for this man, and how... valiantly you fought for him and I think that guilt is, it's, it's a very difficult emotion to shake off but I don't think you deserve it. I really don't. I think that you were fighting a battle with a man who was battling himself and I just wish, I just wish that it had been handled better. I wish that he got the help he needed. And I wish that you were, although I don't mean to be disrespectful, not sitting opposite from me now and telling me the story of how the love of your life died. Because it, it never gets any easier to hear it and it certainly never gets any easier to experience it. Um. Have you had therapy and things yourself? Are

Rhiannon Williams:

I've, uh, yeah, I mean, again, it's been something that I've was alive, to do that for himself, so obviously, and I knew quite early on that I'd, like I said, and again, I was reaching out to mental health services when I could see myself in crisis, and it was even more triggering then that you can't get help after you've just lost somebody to suicide, and you're begging them and saying, I am, you know, in trouble here. I'm lucid now in this moment, but I'm telling you that I keep having periods where I'm frightening myself because I'm losing it. And, you know, all those things that you're telling me about protective factors, the fact that I've got children and people who love me, those, those are apparently protective factors. But I'm here telling you that in that, yes, here in this moment, they are protective factors. But last night at three o'clock in the morning, um, when those intrusive thoughts were taking over my brain, weren't didn't come into the

Rosie Gill-Moss:

No.

Rhiannon Williams:

equation. Um, so yeah, trying to get help on the NHS afterwards was, was even more triggering. So I had private therapy, um, for quite a long time with a wonderful, wonderful private therapist that specializes in suicide. grief, um, and, um, she's also got personal experience of suicide in her family. So, um, yeah, she was wonderful. Um, and she'd also, uh, been learning and in the process of training in EMDR, um, whilst I was under her care and she very kindly. used me as a guinea pig for her training for

Rosie Gill-Moss:

How did you find it?

Rhiannon Williams:

It was, yeah, I think it helped. It's certainly not like the panacea that is banded around. I don't think that it's almost going to instantly, um, fix, fix these traumas, um, and, and help, but it definitely did. I, I noticed that I wasn't anywhere near as, um, Yeah, I was suffering terribly with constant panic attacks and um, and that would usually be how things would spiral and escalate, to have a panic attack, but I just couldn't stop. And they were like, you know, more than daily, several times a day. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

And they're exhausting as

Rhiannon Williams:

yeah, yeah,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

you feeling like you've run a marathon. It's...

Rhiannon Williams:

absolutely. So, so yeah, in terms of um, sort of those trauma responses, I definitely think EMDR helped with, with that. Um, Yeah, it's difficult to know, but I, I, there was, there was an improvement, um, in a lot of

Rosie Gill-Moss:

throw so much at it, you're not quite sure what's,

Rhiannon Williams:

know what, yeah, what is it, or yeah, and is this, is this time as well? Because this all went on, you know, it's about eight months in total, I'd had quite intensive therapy and, and, and these, these sessions of EMDR with her. So, you know, it may have been that time helped as well a bit, I don't know, it doesn't normally, I don't think when you speak to

Rosie Gill-Moss:

But having somebody that you trust to talk to, I've had the same therapist for two years now and I know nothing about her. I know nothing about her. She knows the entirety of my life and it's a very peculiar dynamic to have but the trust is there now and I, I've been driven there and walked into the room on occasions but most of the time I drive myself there, I go in and um. I don't know if you saw yesterday, I did my first Zumba class actually, the Zumba class opposite my counselling

Rhiannon Williams:

wow.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

straight after. And I'm, I just feel like that might be a really good way of letting out the emotion that's been raised. I, I did it once, we'll see if I ever do it again.

Rhiannon Williams:

yeah. I mean there's a lot of, a lot of that kind of conversation about actually having to be physical to, to let, to let some of that out, isn't there?

Rosie Gill-Moss:

It's something like if it's your brain you need to like, It's where you feel it, isn't it? It depends on what you need to do. I'm vaguely aware of this concept. I should probably dig a bit deeper. Rihanna, what does life look like for you now?

Rhiannon Williams:

Um, I'm back in work. Um, I'm just plodding through every day. I'm trying to, you know, I think at the beginning of this year I kind of reached an all time low, really. I'd come out of that real panicky, yeah, um, all of those sorts of symptoms and not being able to function, um, to probably just... Functioning, um, and being able to appear like a, a functioning member of society for maybe a year and a half. Um, mm Yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

used to feel like a puppet, like my strings were being pulled and I was just sort of going through the motion.

Rhiannon Williams:

absolutely. And the beginning of this year, I, you know, I kind of thought, ha, Christ, I've just turned 40 or 41, however old I'm now, I can't remember. Um, I can't live my life like this, or, you know, my entire life like this. Um, so. I just, by chance, um, I'd, I'd been away with some really good friends to the Outer Hebrides. Um, quite a few friends in Scotland. I'm going there this afternoon, tomorrow actually. Um, but we'd gone on a, on a holiday to, um, to the Outer Hebridean Islands. Um, and I'd gone for a, a swim. This was in April. Um. in, yeah, in the North Sea, which was absolutely freezing. Um, and then when I got back, just by chance, I've always loved the sea. I live by the sea and it was part of the reason I bought my house, um, on the coast is that I do love the sea, but I've never been in a group or anything before. Um, and I hadn't actually been back in the sea after Leighton died, um, until, until I went, um, off the coast of Tyree, um, in Scotland. So yeah, I got back and just by chance, um, uh, uh, a local. Swimming group popped up. Um, and I thought, Oh, okay, maybe I'll try that. Um, and it's, it's been life changing, absolutely life changing. Um, so yeah, I've, I've met a whole bunch of new people because of course that's something else that happens when, when you lose somebody, all those secondary losses, all of my sort of friends network and, and a lot of all of his friends certainly drifted away. Um,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

know how to deal with you, do they? They tend to just back away.

Rhiannon Williams:

yeah. Um, so yeah, I've met a

Rosie Gill-Moss:

that you found open water

Rhiannon Williams:

yeah, it is, it is incredible. I've just finished doing, um, an October challenge because this, obviously I said he died in October 2020. I suffer with like seasonal affective disorder anyway, always have. So the winter months for me are always really challenging. Um, so I just. Took up, um, surfers against sewage challenge to do a dipper day in October. Um, so just, just finished doing that. So that

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Ooh, I bet that was brisk some days.

Rhiannon Williams:

It can, yeah, it can. No, but you can get used to it. I mean, so you, you've, you've

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I cold water, yeah, I

Rhiannon Williams:

water, tank as well. I've just got myself one of them for the house as well.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Oh, have you?

Rhiannon Williams:

yeah, haven't really given it a good whirl yet. Cause so, you know, I said, I've got the sea on my doorstep. So unless it's really, really, you know. dangerous

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Dangerously wavy.

Rhiannon Williams:

yeah, then, then I can just generally go to the sea, which is, you know, I'm very lucky like that. Um, but yeah, you get used to that. Yeah.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

miss, when we moved here, I mean, I was 20 minutes from the sea, but I do, I do miss it, but for a long time after Ben died, I wasn't able to get in it, but, um, I

Rhiannon Williams:

obvious reasons,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Yeah, and I won't go in choppy waters, even when I went paddle boarding the other day, as soon as the wind picked up, I was out. Um, but that's, you know, that's, that's natural. Excuse me. But I hear so much about this communities of often women who go to the sea swimming groups because. From what I can infer from them, what you've got is a load of people wanting to do, to make themselves better.

Rhiannon Williams:

Yes.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

every person there, you know, has made a choice that they're going to put their body in cold water, in order to help their mental health, their physical health, whatever their driving factor may be. They are doing it because they want to make improvements. And I don't mean like, you know, slaving in the gym and things like that. It's normally about mental health. Lulu and I went in on my birthday. She said, what do you want to do on your birthday? My birthday's in March, and Lou lives in Felixstowe. And I want to go into the sea. I want to get into the sea with my two best mates and my husband. And we did it, and it was invigorating. And I think it was that that kicked off my desire to do this cold water therapy.

Rhiannon Williams:

Yeah. And yeah, it's just been incredible. And like, yeah, absolutely what you said about the people, you know, um, cause that makes it as well. I'd never really realized just how much that camaraderie is, is all part of it. Like I said, I've got the sea on my doorstep. It's literally two minute walk from my house. Um, and I've always spent time in the water, but you know, when the kids were growing up, it'd just be me and the kids. Um, Or me on my own, and you certainly wouldn't want to be staying in the water or doing too much without,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

No, it's not a safe practice on

Rhiannon Williams:

yeah, absolutely. So, no, so we, yeah, so we do, and there's a big group, there's always, always somebody there. I will, yeah, I should imagine, I've got to look at my roadshow, I don't know if I'm working, I don't think I'm working Christmas Day. We normally have a New Year, a big New Year's Day one here, um. I think I'm working nights, New Year's Eve though. Um, so if I can manage, I'll come straight from work. But yeah, yeah, I'm sure we, I'm sure I will go in on Christmas. Yeah, on Christmas Day or around and about, but

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Well good on you, I think that's, I think that you, I often talk about the guests that we have on this show because in order to come here and tell your story, you've got to have gone through a journey yourself. You've got to be a particular type of person. And I wanted to just mention the fact that you talked about your own suicidal ideations and dark thoughts and ruminations because these are things that need to be talked about. Um. The first time I told John that I had these ideations, he reacted quite viscerally. He was, he was like, don't ever say that. And then I sort of wrote down how I felt and how the importance of being able to vocalise it meant that the chance of it ever happening diminished. Um, because you don't mean it, I don't want to kill myself. Of course I don't.

Rhiannon Williams:

No.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

In that moment you feel so hopeless and I'm, I have to say the HRT has made an enormous difference to me. I'm, my, yes, I'm, the lows are much, I'm feeling hugely, hugely better. But, um, we do need to talk about it. We do need to talk about it. That thought goes through your head without people recoiling. So I think it takes enormous guts to say those words and You've got guts in abundance, Rhiannon, haven't you, my love? Um, but thank you for twice taking the time to talk to me. I could hear you a lot better this time, so I did get much more of your story,

Rhiannon Williams:

good.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

dropping it. Yeah, trying to do it from Albania didn't work for us, did it? But, um,

Rhiannon Williams:

thank

Rosie Gill-Moss:

you for coming back on, and thank you for telling Leighton's story. And it's the idea that it can happen to anybody. It's not... Restricted to strangers and films and BBC dramas. And we know that talking about it helps. So, thank you. I think that you should be really proud of yourself.

Rhiannon Williams:

No, thank you

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Will you let your kids listen back?

Rhiannon Williams:

Pardon?

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Will your kids listen to it, do you think?

Rhiannon Williams:

I don't know. We, yeah, we. Most of the things that I do, sort of, relation to all of this, it's not, they're, they're, they're,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

No,

Rhiannon Williams:

they're not that, uh, want, they, they don't want to, they, they, they, yeah, they may, I don't know,

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Well, I just think they're out there, aren't they? If they want to in the future, they can listen. Um, and I've I mean, my eldest, I don't think he knew how close, we sort of protected him, how close John came to dying. And I said, oh, you know, and actually, what did he say to me the other day? He found some notes that John had made when he was doing his episode, and he sort of said, Oh, I don't know if I should have looked at them, because it's obviously about Sarah's demise. Um, And he said, Oh, I didn't know all of that. And I thought, well, I suppose you wouldn't, would you? It's, we, we protect them from quite a lot of things. Anyway, I'm rambling. I'm rambling. I'm going to let you go, my darling, but thank you for sparing the time to talk to me today and for being so brave and

Rhiannon Williams:

bit, a little bit more cohesive this time. I felt like we'd go, go off so many tangents last time, so

Rosie Gill-Moss:

I was looking forward to John trying to edit, like, the three or four different variations of,

Rhiannon Williams:

Ha, ha, ha, ha. Two neurodivergent brains, uh, trying to do something together. Because, yeah, I'm pretty a splash of spice in there somewhere as well.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

that's my favourite term, and I think all the best people do. So, um, I think you tend to be drawn to people like yourself, um, yeah. Yeah, I think the best people are It's what they call it, human ma human, human 2. 0. That's what, that's

Rhiannon Williams:

ha, ha. ha. Excellent.

Rosie Gill-Moss:

Anyway, on that note, I am going to sign off today and I'm going to send all of you listening out there lots of love. Um, if you have any questions relating to today's episode, please do direct them to myself, to John. Um, I can even ask Rhiannon for you if she's willing to answer. So, um, it is, episodes surrounding suicide are, are very difficult because nobody wants to believe that that could happen. Um, but. As I've just said multiple times, the more we talk about it, the better. So for now, thank you Rhiannon, and to the rest of you. keep plodding on.

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