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When My Physical Therapist Said the Words I Needed to Hear for 2 Years

As I sat in the doctor’s office tying my shoelaces, I explained to the physical therapist what I’d been doing recently. I explained that I went on a run every evening because I enjoyed running and it helped with my anxiety, but I wasn’t very good. My best time was 14 minutes and 3 seconds. I tried my hardest and pushed myself, but I could never get to my definition of good enough.

As I said those words, I felt my face get flushed with a sense of embarrassment. I was 14 years old and had been training for six months, and that’s as far as I’d gotten. I knew people who did two miles in that time and I could barely do a mile. This was no accomplishment. As I began to mentally tear myself down for any “accomplishment” I’d ever done, she said something that has stuck with me since that day.

“Wow, that’s amazing. You should be really proud of yourself. You’ve come a really long way.”

My mouth dropped. Proud of myself? For running a mile in a lousy time? At first I was kind of upset at the thought, but looking back, she was right. I should be proud of myself because I have come a long way to get where I am today.

For a year I couldn’t walk. It was a miracle I was even alive — that I even had a leg to run on. I had more pain syndromes and problems with my joints from my lower back down then I could even count. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I have a disability that’s not going to go away and isn’t easily treatable. I have over 10 ailments between physical and mental health, and I should be proud of any accomplishment I do make.

Even if I didn’t believe it at the time, she was right. She said the thing I needed to hear for two years. I was doing a good job exactly where I was. There was no false expectation I had to live up to. I didn’t have to keep a brave face. The barriers and goals I’d set for myself vanished, and the chronic and disabling part of my chronic illness was acknowledged. I was doing a good job that I should be proud of — and so are you.

Maybe you have a chronic illness like me and the competition to be like everyone else and keep a brave face all the time has overwhelmed you you should be proud of yourself, too.

Or maybe you’re just having a hard time — I believe you’re doing great, and you should be proud of yourself.

We all get defeated and knocked down in life, but it’s important to remember you’re doing the best you can and should be proud of yourself. I don’t think we were ever meant to do this life on our own. It’s always OK to ask for help. We all fall down, and that’s OK as long as we get back up and keep fighting.

It’s OK to give yourself the affirmation you need from time to time and acknowledge your strength. Don’t forget to give yourself some credit for how far you’ve come.

Whatever you’re going through, you should be proud of yourself. You’re doing a good job.

Follow this journey on Smiling Amidst Storms.

The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a moment when you were at a hospital and a medical staffer, fellow patient or a stranger made a negative or surprising comment that caught you off guard. How did you respond to it? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.