PTSD: can it come from strength, rather than a sign of weakness?

This amazing post talks about character traits which show strength, and how they ultimately contributed to Joe’s military service (and PTSD), but also to his recovery.

Most people with PTSD don’t have a prior history of running ultra-marathons, but the strength that allowed him to do that was psychological, not physical.

His perspective reminds me of that in psychiatrist Tim Cantopher’s book, Depressive Illness: Curse of the Strong.
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Are you scoffing at the thought that depression is a result of strength? I certainly was until I started reading. Here’s two extracts from the book:

This illness nearly always happens to one particular type of person. He or she is strong, reliable, and diligent, with a strong conscience and sense of responsibility. But he is also sensitive, easily hurt by criticism and has a selfesteem which, while it may look robust on the outside, is in fact quite vulnerable and easily dented. This is the person to whom you would turn in times of need, and she would never let you down. When the going gets tough, this person gets going. Why should this type of person be the one to get ill?

So what happens if you put a whole lot of stresses on to someone who is weak, or cynical, or lazy? The answer is that he will immediately give up, so he will never get stressed enough to become ill.

The strong person on the other hand, reacts to stress by redoubling his efforts, pushing himself way beyond the limits for which his body is designed. When he starts to get symptoms, because he is sensitive and fears criticism and failure, he still keeps going, with the inevitable result that eventually something must give way. What gives way is the limbic system. If you put 18 amps through a 13 amp fuse, there is only one possible result.

Stress related depressive illness is essentially a blown fuse.

Read Joe’s understanding of inner strength, and the self-stigma within PTSD
http://ptsdasoldiersperspective.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/thriving-stigma-in-me-remembering-that.html

What strengths do you have within your character?

What strengths do you think are common in people you know with Depression or PTSD?

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8 thoughts on “PTSD: can it come from strength, rather than a sign of weakness?

  1. That makes sense….Ive been trying to recover for a few years…but couldnt understand why me? Because Ive always been a strong person. Now I feel like a looser weak, wimp…for where I am now…So this article is helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

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