I’m 24 with grey hair on my chin and depressed. It’s a Tuesday — 12 p.m. —in 2012. I’m watching daytime TV, but my mind is elsewhere. I return to one pervasive thought from over the last 12 chaotic months. I need to kill myself.
Growing up in Derry, Northern Ireland, I struggled with my mental health and probably needed therapy. So pursuing a career that would impact others feels like a calling.
When faced with pursuing a law or psychology degree, I choose the latter, wrongly assuming it will teach me how to counsel others.
I am stuck in people-pleasing patterns, struggling to set boundaries in my life.
I cope in destructive ways, numbing my resentment with antidepressants and alcohol, avoiding the truth of what needs to change.
I came awfully close to committing suicide.
What stops me is considering my cousin. He died tragically the year before and wanted to live. So, ashamed of possibly inflicting more turmoil on my family, I carry on surviving.
In 2013 I train in cognitive behavioral therapy, something I feel I should do to cope rather than listening to my intuition. The techniques don’t fully resonate, but the insights help and I soon feel the courage to leave a toxic relationship after many volatile years.
I take a break from education and work to focus on bodybuilding and personal training, man-shit to bring myself back. But I still don’t know how to find real happiness.
I meet Lisa, who becomes my girlfriend, and our love unexpectedly begins to help me. After we move to Dubai in 2016, I realize that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in a gym. It is superficial and draining, while my personal training clients are more interested in working through their life issues with me.
By 2017 I feel ready to revisit therapy and counseling, and place a deposit for a random course with no expectations. By chance, I’ve stumbled into family therapy.
I throw myself under the bus like a crash test dummy, painstakingly processing all the shit that holds me back. Repressed memories resurface. Unhealthy generational family patterns that shaped me become apparent. I can’t turn off the tap that’s started….It’s confronting but exhilarating because I’m switching off autopilot.
I take on a client struggling with crippling anxiety.
He’s getting married in 10 weeks and needs support. Despite the nine-hour time difference, we have weekly calls up to the wedding week. We strongly connect, and I help him overcome two suicide attempts. He sends me a photo on his wedding day—he is so happy.
One morning a few weeks later,
I get a text that floors me: He took his own life.
I’m shocked, devastated, speechless…
Could I have done more?
My supervisor, Marina, intervenes. “It happens but doesn’t get any easier,” she divulges. A wise woman in
her 80s who lost four patients over 40 years, Marina reaffirms, “Your high expectations worsen your guilt. Don’t give up, Ruairi — you’re very talented.” She humanizes the situation and injects hope. Tragedy deepens my commitment to what I do.
I continue to work on myself and become more assured of my wisdom. Then my business explodes through word of mouth, mainly females aged 20 to 60, which surprises me.
I ask Lisa to marry me. She saved my life by showing me love doesn’t have to be painfully hard like in the movies. It can be fun, exhilarating, and safe. I no longer have suicidal thoughts, although I’m still doing my best to make sense of things. Healing is ongoing.
What does make complete sense to me is helping someone.
I recently empowered a scientist to find her courage. After suffering from crippling fear, she quit her job, left a dead relationship, and now doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. Seeing how far she’s come since day one is profoundly fulfilling. And she is one of hundreds of clients I’ve been gratified to help.
And today, at 32, I’m grateful to say the hair on my chin is naturally brown.
To help people overcome the low self-esteem that holds them back so they can
step into who they are – reclaim their
power, change their reality, and live the life
they love (no matter what others think)
With guidance and courage, you can rise up from anything. And I’m here to help.