“Every day brings a new chance, hope, and a beginner’s mind to learn something new about myself.”

This is the kind of attitude I knew I had to adopt going forward. The kind that replaced darkness and struggle with light and hope. Each day there is a challenge that you have to overcome, sometimes it is big and other times a small thing like getting out of bed. It is this thinking that has helped me, finish dozens of running races from 5K to 100 miles. I am now on a mission to complete the Abbott World Marathon Majors, six of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world. So far, I’m more than halfway there. And along the way to the last two, I’ll run dozens more races and I’ll run them all to support awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.

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None of this comes easy. It takes as much mental fortitude as it does physical. For many years, I have studied and understood the connection between body and mind knowing that it is essential to my success and my happiness.

But sometimes, things block that connection. Since childhood, I was always the “quiet one” in my family. I chalked it up to shyness when I would refrain from spending time with friends or running errands to the local shop. And over the years, I would look back look back on that shyness and understand that much of it was coming from anxiety only that I didn’t know it at the time.

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To work through my anxiety, I rely on my mindfulness meditation practice. I spend much of my time doing Loving Kindness meditations. Loving Kindness in mediation means to cultivate feelings of kindness, love, and happiness for one’s self and for others. It means taking an active interest in the wellbeing of one’s self and others.

Through learning to understand my own anxiety, I have taken an active role in giving back to others. I pay it forward by sharing what I’ve learned about meditation and mindfulness with those around me. I have also become actively involved with a local nonprofit, Rattle the Stars, whose mission it is to “beat the stigma of mental illness and prevent suicide in adolescents and young adults.” They hope to normalize talking about the struggles that come along with mental illness so that no one must feel alone or suffer in silence. I went on local television this year to share my story on depression and anxiety. I was nerve racked at first knowing that I would be opening myself to strangers and my coworkers would know that I suffer with mental illness. A wonderful thing happened over the next few days and weeks, people came up to me and shared their stories of pain and loss, coworkers, friends and complete strangers. I am currently a trained Crisis Counselor for the Crisis Text Line and looking forward to tomorrow and every day after that, whatever the challenge is. Crushing stigma and quenching pain.

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Learn more about Ruairi on Instagram at @therealruairi

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