The PTSD Collective Away With Her Words

My PTSD Life By Numbers

by Sarah


For as long as I can remember, I’ve worked with numbers.

36.  My age.
3.  The number of years I dated my husband before getting married.
7.  The number of years I’ve been married.
3.  The number of months that would pass between seeing him when he was staying on base.
1368.  The number of kilometres between the base and home.

3.  The number of children we have.
5.  The number of years he was in the Army.
2.  The number of overseas deployments he did.
5.  The number of medals he wears on ANZAC Day.

8.  The years since he left the Army.
0.  The number of times the Army has contacted him to assist him find a job.
0.  The number of times the Army has contacted him to make sure he is okay.
5.  The number of times he was turned down for a job he wanted to do because he was “too smart”.
47.  The number of times he was turned down for a job because he had “no qualifications” – apparently training to fight a war doesn’t provide with you any “transferable skills”.

2.  The number of years it took him to find a job.
1.  The number of people it took to give him a chance.

3.  The number of times he was made redundant in the next 3 years. (Unfortunately, the job he found relied heavily on Government funding and offices were regularly shut down on short notice.)
6.  The number of weeks maternity leave I had before I had to return to work.

4.  The number of his “mates” who have committed suicide.
1.  The number of his “mates” whose marriage is still together.
12.  The number of times he drank so much that he couldn’t remember what happened the night before (last year).

4.  The number of “family” holidays we planned last year where I took the kids by myself. Because he was too anxious.
2.  The number of times he went out with us last year.
1.  The number of times we went out without the children last year.

3.  When he left, the number of days I would be calling him before he would text and let me know he was okay.
21.  The number of times I called the hospital looking for him.
3.  The number of times the hospital called me to tell me he was there.

4.  The number of times he told me he had tried to kill himself.

2.  The number of times that I have seen him cry.

3.  The number of therapists I’ve seen.

5.  The number of years that passed before I realised it wasn’t my fault.

The number of times I called his friends and family looking for him to make sure he was okay….
The number of times they told me he was “just being him”….
The number of times they told me I should just leave him….
The number of times I thought I should just leave him….

Too many to count. 

But then I remembered….
The number of times he made me a cup of tea when I wasn’t feeling well….
The number of times that he fought for this country. Even though he wasn’t born here and he owed nothing to any of us….
The number of times he gave whatever money or food he had left to his family….
The number of times he pulled over to help a stranger change a tyre….
The number of nappies he changed….
The number of times he made me laugh….
The number of times he cleaned up after me when I was pregnant with morning sickness….
The number of times he told me I should go out and have a break, because I had done so much for our family….

Too many to count. 

Last year I decided that I was not going to count numbers anymore. I decided to go back to study and get a new job that didn’t involve numbers. Then another “mate” committed suicide, another family holiday was ruined by anxiety and post traumatic stress. And we just couldn’t go on anymore….

8.  The number of weeks that he has been going to rehabilitation.
8.  The number of weeks he has been on medication.
8.  The number of weeks he has been sober.
8.  The number of weeks that I have felt contentment, peace and hope. Hope that one day soon, the counting will stop and we can enjoy living.

But still, it goes on….
2.  The number of days that have passed since I wrote this.
2.  The number of his “mates” that committed suicide, in the last 7 days.

I hope that one day, these numbers will stop. Not just for me, but for all the veterans and families who are suffering.



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  1. My heart aches for you and your husband. To lose so many who are the only ones who can relate… there are no words to express how hard that must be. My prayers for your continued healing and for an abundance of peace and hope. You are loved. You are not alone.

  2. It seems those numbers just can’t be true… it looks so bald laid out like that. A lot of those numbers were hard to get my head around, but as the wife, that number “5” for the years that passed where you thought it was your fault breaks my heart. That’s a thought pattern that I’m trying to get out of right now.
    If your husband falters sometime after this 8 weeks of rehab, don’t take your counter back to 0. There WILL be missteps on the way to recovery, but I’m so glad you have some hope now. Your story shows true love.

  3. You are am amazing woman! ! Your husband is so blessed to have such support. I cannot begin to imagine how you remain so strong. Good luck with everything

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