I want to take some time to talk about a campaign that is very important to me. Jared Padalecki (Supernatural, Gilmore Girls) has a campaign called “Always Keep Fighting” that he started back in March of 2015. The concept came to Padalecki shortly after he lost a close friend, Matt Riley, to suicide on New Years Eve 2014. Jared was encouraged by his castmates, Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins, to run a Represent campaign to donate money in Riley’s name for a cause that at the time Jared himself was struggling with. According to the Supernatural Wiki, this first of 5 campaigns sold the most shirts ever sold by Represent and raised over $250,000 for TWLOHA.
The slogan, “Always Keep Fighting”, is Padalecki’s reminder to people to not give up on life or hope, and that if they just keep fighting and reach out for help it will get better. Since March 2015, Jared has run five campaigns — all with different variations of the “Always Keep Fighting” slogan. Usually the clothing items feature a picture of Jared somewhere and come in a variety of options including 3/4 lengths tees, sweatshirts, hoodies, tank tops, and men’s and women’s fit tees.
At one point, Padalecki became so affected by his depression that he cancelled several cons and events to go home and spend time with his family and try to get some control over his life again. This was in May of 2015, and there was such an outpouring to encouragement and support for Jared to “Always Keep Fighting”. This is how we should treat everyone with mental illness.
I have never considered myself as someone with “depression,” but I have very bad anxiety that has led me to feel depressed because of the way my anxiety makes me feel restricted. My anxiety is very debilitating in social situations; more than two or three people in a place makes me very uncomfortable. I don’t like to be touched — hugged, or otherwise — by anyone other than family and close friends. My anxiety keeps me up most nights worrying about things that are completely out of my control. When you live your life like that, you start feeling down on yourself because you don’t sleep, you don’t go anywhere, you don’t socialize. I didn’t realize it was depression at first. That is one of the big reasons this campaign spoke to me. I realized maybe I was depressed, but it wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. And by seeing one of my favorite actors struggling with the issue made me realize it’s not something we should continue stigmatizing.
Mental health is something that is still very hush-hush in our society. Because depression and anxiety can’t be seen or felt we think they aren’t real or aren’t serious, but it’s very much the opposite. I love that Jared has spoken out about this issue and hopefully others will realize that mental illness is the same as any other illness or disease and it needs to be treated and people need help. And as of today, the other Supernatural actors — Jensen and Misha — are running their own campaign called “You Are Not Alone.” It’s running until the end of today and shirts are shipping the third week of March. You can purchase a shirt here and possibly win a chance to go to Hawaii and meet Jensen and Misha. Proceeds from this campaign are going to the #SPNFamily Crisis Support Network which is part of Misha Collins’ organization, Random Acts Org.
I hope that people will start standing up for people with mental illness and stop stigmatizing it. And if even one life was saved because of either of these campaigns or this blog, then it was all worth it.
If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts please reach out to one of the following for help:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline : 800-273-8255
I’m Alive : an online crisis network
Veterans Crisis Line : for active military and veterans
If you want more insight into the minds of those struggling with this illness, listen to our 15th Episode, Battles Fought and Lost, where Brandon and Cody describe how depression affects their minds and their lives.