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Hey, everyone! My name is Sam, and I wanted to sit down and explain what The Teal Bandit is and how it was born. If you aren’t interested, that’s cool, but I hope you’ll stick around for a little bit while I pour this all out. Just heads up this does contain issues such as struggling with depression, anxiety, self harm, and PTSD.
Like most things in life, there is always a backstory. You rarely find something that has a hard defined start because everything has a series of events that leads up to the big BOOM! For me, my story of The Teal Bandit started while I was in the Navy. It’s a little rough but you’ll get a better understanding of it all if I bare a lot of the nitty-gritty.
My husband and I went through some severe trials. We were broken both as individuals and a couple. I felt like I had hit bottom but man, looking back I didn’t even scratch the surface of what I was about to face in the coming months. My mental health had taken a severe nosedive when I got pregnant with our son. We were newlyweds, living on the opposite coast from the majority of our family (I had two uncles that also lived in CA, so that was nice), and I was suffering. Growing up I always said I didn’t want kids. They were fine to be around and babysit, but it wasn’t a life I wanted. I grew up the oldest of five kids, there are now 8 of us by the way, and I didn’t want my own. To be honest, the thought of being a mom scared the shit out of me. When we found out we were pregnant I was terrified. I cried, and I cried, but the shock finally wore off. I moved out of the barracks and into our first apartment together in San Marcos, CA. It wasn’t until about March that I started having trouble with depression and anxiety. I would have panic attacks; I’d lash out at my husband, I couldn’t go anywhere without being terrified of who knows what. Now, if you aren’t familiar with the Navy and the mental health services you receive they are not that great. I only went to a couple of counseling sessions before I realized that my counselor and I just weren’t a good fit, but there was no other option, so I suffered on my own. I thought I had to deal with everything by myself and everyone around me suffered for it.
We had our son in May 2012, and postpartum depression hit me like a fucking Mac truck. On top of that, my husband and I were still having problems. I was extremely distant and angry all the time, and I didn’t always know why. I was pushing him away as hard as I could, and he started to push back. I was disgusted with myself all the time and was carrying around such incredible shame and guilt. I wanted to love my new baby, but he scared me. I was too afraid to touch him; I was too scared to feed him. What if I dropped him? What if I gave him something he was allergic to? Why can’t I get this kid to stop screaming every night at 5 pm?!?
Finally, I went back to counseling. I went through doctors and diagnosis’ like they were candy (I freaking love candy). At this time I was treated for depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, and a general panic disorder. I refused to try medication until the night when I first tried to hurt myself and my husband put a stop to it. I knew it was time so I get set up to see a psychiatrist with the Navy, and I started medication. Paxil. Three weeks in this 21-year-old new mom and wife couldn’t get her mind under control. The destructive thoughts happened nonstop. “Everyone would be better off without me freaking out all the time. We can’t even go out without me feeling like I’m going to throw up” were among the lies I then thought to be truths. I tried to end my life again. My husband once again saved me from myself. We had our problems, but he made me hold on. I am seriously in tears right now thinking just how destructive I was to the very foundation of our relationship, but still, he was there not letting me go.
In the following months, I went to counseling often. Tried new medications, I got a new doctor because the Paxil doctor told me “Paxil wouldn’t make you act like that, but you can stop taking it if you want to.” Y’all, if you have a doctor who writes you off like that after you tell her you tried to end your life you run the other way. Still, I was being “treated” for depression, anxiety, and agoraphobia. I say “treated” because by that I mean I was taking medication and only sort of talking to a psychologist from the Navy and it wasn’t doing hardly any good. My real treatment came once I got out of the Navy. I saw a doctor on Camp Pendleton, where we were living. They listened to what I was and had gone through. They gave me a sheet to fill out, and it turns out it was a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder screening. I scored HIGH and no, that’s not a good thing. All the symptoms I was struggling so hard with, the signs that were destroying my life finally started to take a proper name.
The Camp Pendleton doctors talked to me and said they couldn’t treat me properly and sent me to a specialist who did prolonged exposure therapy that my friends
The Teal Bandit is Born
In 2016, I opened my small online boutique with a clothing supplier. I started to feel empowered because I was bringing money in AND I felt like I was actually doing something right. I was building an online community slowly but surely and believe it or not, I was making friends. I made some fantastic friends while out in California, but I always tried to withdraw from them. They understood my crazy though and wouldn’t let me stray too far yet let me have my space. I was finally settling into my own unique groove. I was with that company for a few years, and I started to think about my personal branding. I began to think about who I was and where I had to travel to get to where I was right then. I wanted a brand that would keep me grounded with my eyes on what it meant to have my online community. Teal. Teal is my favorite color. It’s also the color of PTSD awareness. It was my biggest mountain that I had climbed and that needed to be a part of it. I started to think of other things I liked. I wanted something to balance the dark nature of the PTSD meaning, and immediately my love of raccoons was there. I picked “Bandit” because “Teal Trash Panda” just sounds dumb as hell.
The Teal Bandit Now
Now, I use The Teal Bandit to continue to bring together like-minded individuals with a caring heart. In 2018 I used my business to donated just over $1000 to Mission 22 which is an organization that provides no-cost treatment to veterans with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). I also have plans for this blog to hopefully make those struggling feel a little less alone. Everyone has a story and I want people to know they aren’t alone in writing theirs. Living with mental health issues can be so isolating but it doesn’t have to be. You just need to reach your hand out when you are ready and someone will be there. I will be there.