Family Don’t End With Blood and National Suicide Prevention Week

 

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. Nearly 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year, which is roughly one death every 40 seconds. One of the biggest impediments to people getting help is reluctance to admit to struggling with depression and feeling like you can’t go on. The stigma around talking about depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts prevents people from reaching out and getting the help they need – it is crucial that we challenge this stigma and let everyone know that it’s okay to talk about how you feel, without judgment or criticism or censure.

As a psychologist, I’ve worked to eliminate that stigma and help people individually to find a reason and a way to keep living. One of the reasons we put together the book Family Don’t End With Blood was to challenge the taboos around talking about depression and suicide on a broader level – in a way that would be powerful to readers. Sometimes we think of “celebrities” as immune from those difficulties, so Family Don’t End With Blood is written by the actors from the television show Supernatural.  The actors who wrote chapters were all courageous in refusing to allow stigma to silence them. They wrote, with candor and emotion, about their struggles with depression, anxiety and self doubt. They allowed readers into their worlds, into their darkest hours, so that anyone reading the book would know that they are truly not alone. That it’s okay to speak up and tell people how much you’re hurting, and it’s okay to ask for help and to accept it when it’s given.

Sometimes we also think, mistakenly, that people who are “like us” are nevertheless much happier or more successful or more loved or whatever; we don’t think that they’re struggling in the same way that we are. So Family Don’t End With Blood also has chapters written by fans, who are just like you and me. They too write with courage about fighting against depression, anxiety, addiction, the feeling of not being “enough” – and of how they managed to keep going even when it was very hard.

Jared Padalecki’s chapter stands out for his willingness to speak openly about the time he almost gave up – and how he was able to let his friends and family and fans give him the support that allowed him to Always Keep Fighting. We hope, and all of us who wrote the book hope, that his words and his courage inspire others who are having trouble not giving up to keep fighting too. That everyone who reads his chapter feels validated in their own struggle and encouraged to continue on.

There are organizations out there that are doing amazing work trying to change the world. That’s why every copy of Family Don’t End With Blood benefits Random Acts and Attitudes in Reverse, an organization that aims to educate about depression, to erase the stigma around mental health, and to prevent suicide.

For his birthday this year, in appreciation of Jared’s chapter and his AKF campaign, we also decided to do a fundraiser in Jared’s honor. He asked that the proceeds go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Most of the actors who wrote Family Don’t End With Blood signed a copy, and a very generous fan contributed almost $2000 to purchase it. We also sold a few tee shirts designed by Angie Siketa, and we were honored to donate all the proceeds to the Hotline, to support the important work they do providing a lifeline to those who need it.

It’s important to remember that we all need to hear encouraging and supportive messages from time to time. We all need someone who cares about us to have our back and to lift us up when we’re in danger of falling and carry us until we find our footing again.

So we wanted to give something to Jared too. Thank you to everyone who wrote him a heartfelt message about what his #AKF campaigns and his chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood have meant to you. We gave those messages to him in book form at the last con (with beautiful cover design by Cris Griffin, who also did the gorgeous cover art for Family Don’t End With Blood). I hope your words encourage him just as his words have encouraged so many of us.

You can donate to any of the organizations below that are working to provide help to anyone dealing with depression and to prevent suicide, or give a copy of Family Don’t End With Blood to someone who needs to know that they aren’t alone, and that even lead actors on a successful television show struggle with depression and anxiety and need support sometimes.

Ask about it. Talk about it. Make it okay to talk about ALL emotions openly and honestly, and to ask for help when you need it.

And #AKF.

Jared and Jensen show each other how it felt to read the other’s chapter

There’s help if you or someone else needs it. Don’t be afraid to reach out for it.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Attitudes in Reverse: AttitudesInReverse.org

To Write Love On Her Arms: twloha.com

IMAlive: IMalive.org

Random Acts Crisis Network: randomacts.org/crisis-support-network/

— Lynn and Kim

Family Don’t End With Blood is

available at the links on the home page

 

Happy Birthday, Jared Padalecki!

Happy Birthday, Jared Padalecki!

JIB 2016
Pittsburgh, 2017.
Vancouver, 2017.
Nashville, 2018.

There’s something very special about the birthday of someone you care about – someone who changed the world you live in just by being born into it. That might be a child or a partner or a good friend, and in some cases it might be a person who plays a character you love on a television show you adore. I can’t imagine Supernatural without Sam Winchester, and I can’t imagine Sam Winchester being played by anyone other than Jared Padalecki. There are many things and many people who make Supernatural the special show that it is, but from the start, the actors who brought Eric Kripke’s Sam and Dean to life so vividly ensured that it would be a show with the potential to change lives. And it has. That alone makes Jared a special person in my book.

San Diego, 2017.
Vancouver, 2016.
Jacksonville, 2016.

But there’s so much more. When Jared had the courage to start talking about his own battles with anxiety and depression, he validated countless fans who had also struggled with their mental health. He made it okay to open up and be real, refusing to allow his ‘celebrity’ status to keep him silent. I still remember that Comic Con panel in Hall H when we all sat there holding up the Always Keep Fighting candles to honor his bravery and show our support for his fight, just as he has unfailingly showed his support for ours. The Always Keep Fighting and other Represent campaigns have not only contributed to charities that exist to help people in their fight, but they also gave fans a way to ‘speak out’ as well and to support each other.

San Diego Comic Con, 2017.
Seattle, 2018.
Seattle, 2017.
Pittsburgh, 2018.

All that is enough of a reason to make Jared special. But there’s more. When I wanted to write a book that pulled together the stories of all the fans whose lives had been changed by Supernatural and the SPN Family, it was Jared who was brave enough to say that he had a story to tell too. It’s one thing to talk about your battle with depression in a brief interview or as part of a tee shirt campaign. It’s entirely another to write a 30 page chapter that gets as real as you can get about that battle – that takes you right down into the trenches with Jared  in the midst of his most difficult moments ever. When he sent me the first draft, I sat there with tears streaming down my face and then replied to him with just a few words: Are you sure? He was. Because he knew that only by being that open and that real would he really be able to make a difference. Since Family Don’t End With Blood was published, I have heard from hundreds and hundreds of fans who have read Jared’s chapter and decided that they would keep fighting too. I’ve cried countless times reading their stories of bravery and battle, and I’ve shared some of them with Jared so he’ll know too that his courage is making a difference.

Phoenix, 2017.
Las Vegas, 2017.
San Diego Comic Con, 2017.

Those are the big things, the things I think of right away when it’s Jared’s birthday. There are little things too. The way I’ve seen him kneel down to hold the hand of a young fan overcome at trying to talk to him. The way he soldiers on even when he himself is feeling close to overcome with emotion, empathic person that he is. The way he cares about his costars and crew members and everyone on set and works so hard to create the unique and supportive atmosphere there is. The way he cared so much about writing his chapter that it took two years, because he so wanted to get it right. Who he is with family and who he is with friends – and who he is with fans.

Minneapolis, 2016.
Pittsburgh, 2017.
San Francisco, 2016.
Pittsburgh, 2016.

We wanted to do something to celebrate Jared’s birthday that would make a difference, so we asked him which charity he’d like the proceeds of the project to go to. He chose the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, which is so important and so needed. An original design ‘Always Keep Fighting/Never Give Up’ tee shirt by artist Angie Siketa raised money for the Hotline in Jared’s honor. Thank you to everyone who contributed! We also auctioned a copy of Family Don’t End With Blood signed by Jared, Jensen, Misha and many more, with all proceeds going to the Hotline. The auction ended at $1,975.00!! And as always, every day, every copy of Family Don’t End With Blood that’s sold raises money for Random Acts and Attitudes in Reverse, two charities that are constantly making a difference.

Pittsburgh, 2018.
Pittsburgh, 2018.
Vancouver, 2016.

So today I’m smiling, because it’s Jared Padalecki’s birthday. He’s not perfect, because Chuck knows, no one is. But he’s one of the good guys, and I’m tremendously grateful that Fate chose him to portray Sam Winchester. I can’t imagine how differently this wild ride of the past thirteen years would have gone if someone else had. I’m so very glad to know you, Jared – I hope on this birthday you know just how special you are.

–Lynn

Links to Family Don’t End With

Blood and Jared’s chapter on

the home page

Happy Anniversary to Jared Padalecki’s Always Keep Fighting!

 

Today is the third anniversary of Jared Padalecki’s ‘Always Keep Fighting’ campaign – three little words that inspired so many people. I think we all knew, the first time Jared said those words, just how much they meant. We knew that those words, that sentiment, were the mantra of the Winchester brothers, the iconic characters who Jared and Jensen Ackles portray on Supernatural. For those of us who love the Show, Sam and Dean’s determination to “always keep fighting” had inspired us for a decade. But when Jared brought that inspiration to “real life”, those words took on an even greater power.

The first AKF charity campaign took Represent.com by storm – the passion of the SPNFamily had never burnt so brightly or been so united.  There were more campaigns that followed, some joint campaigns with Jensen or with Misha, as the power of the messages to inspire became clear. As ‘AKF’ became something many of us lived by, it soon became clear also that for Jared, those three words had a very personal meaning – one that he decided to share, courageously, by writing a chapter in a book. We began to put together ‘Family Don’t End With Blood’ in 2015, shortly after Jared’s ‘Always Keep Fighting’ message lit up San Diego Comic Con in an unprecedented way. When I got the first draft of the chapter he wrote, I was floored by what AKF meant to Jared, and how much his own life experience had inspired his determination to help others keep fighting.

It’s three years later, and the AKF campaign and the chapter Jared wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood have done just what he hoped they would. Countless people have found the strength to keep going because of those three little words and the personal struggle that Jared had the strength to share in his chapter. I hope that the inspiration that so many of us have found in his words is reflected back to Jared a thousand fold. Working with him as he struggled to write his chapter and tell his story honestly and openly, without censoring himself – because it was so important to him to be real with everyone who would read it – was an inspiration to me. When I feel like something is too much, like it would be easier to give up, I remember that he didn’t. Not in writing the chapter, or in keeping fighting. I hope he knows how much he inspires me, and so so many others.

In celebration of the AKF anniversary, I thought I’d share a short excerpt from his almost 30-page chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood – one I’ve re-read many many times.

So, there I was, sitting in an airplane after filming for four days, en route to San Diego….I was going to a city where I had no home base, where I had no quiet corner to excuse myself to in case of a panic attack. I was going to a city that gets an influx of 200,000+ visitors during the week of Comic-Con. I was going to a place where I would be looked at by thousands of people. Would they judge me? Did they think less of me after my not-so-private struggles? Would there be people in the audience who’d worked long and hard to see me (and others) in Rome and Australia, whose money and time I’d wasted? How would I apologize? How could I even begin to apologize? Was I supposed to just get up there on stage in Hall H and smile and pretend I hadn’t let thousands of fans down? Hell, I would hate me, too. What do I do???

As I mentioned before, an airplane is a terrible place to have a panic attack.

But I got through it. I employed some of the breathing techniques I had learned and practiced, and I was able to read a few things I have that are special and private to me, and that help a lot when I start to panic or feel helpless…My Sunday experience at Comic-Con is always a whirlwind: round-table interviews and red carpets, photo shoots and meetings, Nerd HQ, and, of course, Hall H.

Now, for those of you who haven’t had the good fortune and opportunity to experience Hall H in person, lemme tell you, it is a sight to see. It is a room that seems large enough for an airplane to take off, fly around inside, and land. It’s enormous. And terrifying. I’ve been told that it holds 6,000+ people, not counting standing room. I don’t find that difficult to believe.

Suffice it to say, I was pretty nervous. My anxieties and self-doubts from my flight down were starting to surface again. Here it was: I was about to confront 6,000+ people whom I had let down. And I didn’t know how to apologize. Furthermore, I didn’t want to commandeer the mic and start talking about my personal issues. It was sort of a no-win situation.

But then it happened. As I sat onstage, a sea of lights appeared before me. Were they cell phone cameras? Lighters? It wasn’t immediately clear to me. But then someone behind me (I still don’t know if it was Richard Speight or Rob Benedict—our moderators—or someone else entirely) tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a note. A fan had made thousands of tea lights with a reminder to ‘Always Keep Fighting’ and handed them out to the people in Hall H. The giant hall was lit up in support of me and that message.

Since memory is faulty, I’m going to copy my Facebook post from that day, since that will be the best snapshot of how hard it hit me:

A thank you.

To anybody and everybody that had ANY part whatsoever in the Always Keep Fighting Hall H tea light event.

As I travel back to Vancouver from San Diego Comic-Con, with my partners in crime Jensen Ackles and Mark Sheppard, the enormity of what happened is finally starting to sink in . . .

I am beyond moved.  

I feel so blessed, and grateful, and honored to be a part of the magical Supernatural family.                              

Sitting on that stage in Hall H, I initially mistook all of the lights for cell phone cameras. It’s difficult to discern specific shapes and faces with all of those stage lights shining on you (and it’s quite intimidating up there, sitting in front of 6,500 people!!). Then, when I had a light given to me with an explanation of what it was and what it stood for, I was (and am still) gobsmacked.

Thank you.     

From the very bottom of my heart and my soul, thank you so much.           

I will never forget this day. I will never forget the love that I felt, and still feel. And, to everybody who held a light for me, please know that I hold my light for you.

Though I happened to be the one sitting on stage, I am but one small light in a sea of thousands. TOGETHER, we can and will make a difference!                     

Keep letting your light shine. I will do the same. And, keep fighting.         

Always Keep Fighting.

The light that was given to me that day still sits in my office (as does the note that was handed to me on the stage explaining what was going on). It always will. It is more valuable to me than any award or accolade ever will be. It helps put to rest one of my greatest fears: that I’ve let the fans down. Sometimes, when I still feel like I’ve failed somebody, or let somebody down, I’ll walk into my office, and see it, and remember that I have an entire family out there that wants me to know that “just” me is “just” fine.

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