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

 

Supernatural Fun Times in Charlotte 2018!

 

I don’t usually do conventions back to back, which explains why I wasn’t going to do the Supernatural Denver con – because there was a Supernatural con in Charlotte the very next weekend and I already had tickets. But some of my friends (you know who you are…) are filthy enablers, and I ended up going to Denver after all. That turned out to be a wild and wonderful weekend, but let’s just say that I arrived in Charlotte already pretty tired – and that’s before the con had even started! Luckily I was too busy having fun to really feel the exhaustion until Sunday rolled around and the adrenaline rush that always happens at a Supernatural con was over. (Then I pretty much slept for 12 hours in an attempt to avoid con crud – so far, successful!)

Thursday I flew in and got to meet a friend and fellow fangirl (and fellow writer) who I had only known online – which is always such a treat! Gail Martin is a talented writer whose fantasy genre novels are very popular with the Supernatural fandom, so I couldn’t wait to talk writing and SPN with her. She’s also a Charlotte local, and that means we had delicious barbeque for lunch – and hush puppies! YUM! If you know something better than sharing your mutual love of Supernatural with a new friend over great food, I’m listening.

YUM

Gail dropped me off at the con hotel and I had time for a quick dip in the pool, then it was time to set up my vendor table. My friend and partner in crime (and brilliant photographer) Kim Prior and her bestie arrived by car (which means Kim also brought a car full of food and a cooler full of drinks, so yay!)  This con was at the Embassy Suites in Charlotte.  I think every Supernatural con should be at an Embassy Suites – not only do you get a little mini kitchen in your room and a separate bedroom and living area with sleeper sofa, but you get FREE breakfast and dinner time snacks every day!!! Not one to ever turn down free food, I set my alarm to get up early enough to partake of the buffet breakfast every morning – they even had an omelet bar and a waffle station! Friends, fangirls, free food – I was in heaven. Oh, and the Supernatural cast too…

Thursday night in the vendor room I got to meet lots of people who had read Family Don’t End With Blood and been touched by it. Over the course of the weekend, dozens of people confided to me that the book had changed them in some way, or had even inspired them to keep living. I hope that I somehow convey how much that means when someone says that – that is what we hoped the book would do, that it would inspire people to “always keep fighting”. That’s why the fans who wrote chapters and all the actors who wrote chapters were brave enough to share their own struggles with depression and anxiety and addiction and so many other things – to validate others’ struggles and inspire them to keep fighting. I know it takes courage to walk up and say that to me, a stranger – but I am so honored by it, every single time. So thank you.

Friday morning, after the free buffet of course, the con kicked off with Rich and Rob, who showed off the traditional new Borja shirt for the con. Charlotte, get it?

The man himself… Mike Borja

And then we had a panel with the adorable Rachel Miner.

I will never get over how Rachel’s face lights up when she comes onstage and hears the roar of applause. She has become one of our favorite guests, and has inspired so many people to look at life in a positive way and to keep going no matter what the obstacles.  I am so so glad she wrote a chapter for Family Don’t End With Blood — she’s a role model to many in the fandom, and she understands the importance of representation. At Charlotte, Rachel reiterated something she’d talked about the weekend before in Denver.

Rachel: If I was back on the show, I’d want to be in the chair. Representation is important.

Rachel, in turn, is inspired by the fandom.

Read more

Supernatural Convention Comes to Denver!

 

 

I had no intention of going to the Supernatural convention in Denver, but somehow I ended up there anyway. I’d missed the previous Denver convention so had never had a chance to bring Family Don’t End With Blood to Colorado, and that alone was enough to convince me to go. Add to that the fact that I love Colorado, where my aunt and uncle lived for much of my childhood, so I have wonderful memories from all over the state. And I wanted to meet new SPNFamily member and friend Kaci Marie Lister, who I ‘met’ virtually when I was in Austin for Supernatural Day. So off I went to beautiful Colorado!

The west coast fires had created so much ash in the atmosphere that it mostly obscured my view of the mountains, which was a shame. But the weather was beautiful and I was amongst my SPNFamily, so that more than made up for the lack of mountain views. I met up with Kaci and her friend for dinner and to do a little vlogging, since she was doing a vlog of their exploits at the con, and I caught up with my on-the-road buddies Liz and Kristen for pizza, who I miss tons when we don’t get to hang out for a period of time. It was wonderful to be able to spread the word about Family Don’t End With Blood to so many people who hadn’t heard about it too. This was a repeated conversation.

Me to someone perusing the table with a quizzical expression: Have you heard about the book? This is the one that the Supernatural actors wrote chapters for…

Person: The Supernatural actors wrote a book??????!!!!!

Thanks to everyone who came back to the table the next day to tell me that I ruined their sleep because they couldn’t stop reading it. Blame all those actors and fans who wrote the compelling chapters!

Friday kicked off with Rich and Rob and Louden Swain, and a bunch of non G rated banter, including a song about Misha, Rob’s b-hole and you, and something about microphone condoms, which prompted me to tweet with #OffTheRailsAlready. And it was only Friday!

I really loved the ballroom for Denver, which was smaller than the giant rooms I’m used to – it brought back memories of the early cons and felt cozy and a little more intimate (as intimate as you can get in a ballroom full of people…)  Richard looked around at the giant stage banners that are always in the room – this room was smaller, so the banners were closer.

Richard: Why are the stage banners staring at us? Jared is undressing us all with his eyes, and Jensen is like, why are you all undressing??

Richard puts his foot on the thing

Denver was also notable for being the first (of many?) cons during which a fan asked pretty much every guest to take part in a giant game of Mad Libs that spanned the whole con. I got a kick out of watching people’s faces when they got the dreaded “adverb”. lol

Read more

Happy Birthday to Supernatural’s Richard Speight Jr!

 

September 4th is an important day in the SPN Family – it’s the birthday of Supernatural’s own Richard Speight Jr.  As I write this, Richard is hard at work up in Vancouver directing his second episode of Season 14. Today is an important day because, in my opinion, Richard is one of the most influential individuals in terms of Supernatural’s success. He’s been integral to the show not just in one capacity, but in three important ways. His first connection to Supernatural was as a guest star way back in 2007. He’s been on the Show as a guest actor intermittently since then as either The Trickster or the archangel Gabriel, spanning almost the entire run of the show. He made us laugh and fall in love with his character as the Trickster, but most recently as the tortured and traumatized Gabriel, he’s made us feel for the character and mourn his death (and cross our fingers that it doesn’t stick once again).

Acting at its best – Richard v. Richard!

Second, Richard has been directing Supernatural in addition to acting in it for the past several years, including some of my favorite episodes. Along with Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins and Amanda Tapping, Speight is one of the few actors who have also directed the show. In fact, Ackles recently told me that it was wonderful being able to rely on Richard as a director when he had to play a new character this season, Michael. It was a challenge not playing Dean Winchester in the midst of all the familiar people and visual cues that make up the Supernatural set, so Jensen asked Richard to keep an eye on his performance and make sure it was coming across as Michael, not Dean. Richard was able to help him, as Jensen said, “craft the character.” The fact that the cast trusts Speight so much, in both a professional sense and as a result of the friendship forged in over a decade of traveling the world and doing conventions together, make Speight a popular and effective director for the Show – along with the fact that he worked his ass off to perfect his directing skills.

Directing Jensen Ackles in Just My Imagination
With Just My Imagination writer Jenny Klein – Photo Chris Schmelke

Read more

Ten Things The Hillywood Show Got Right with Supernatural Parody 2!

I’ve been a fan of the Hillywood Show since I discovered their parody videos with their first Supernatural video several years ago. Hannah and Hilly Hindi, the sisters behind The Hillywood Show, were kind enough to chat with me about that video and to also contribute some insights to the documentary film on fandom I co-wrote, Squee! I’ve been eagerly awaiting their second Supernatural parody with high expectations, but the reality surpassed them when it was released last week – Supernatural Parody 2 is a loving tribute to the show, its amazing cast, and its incredible fandom. As I took some notes on why I was enjoying it so much, I realized it’s because once again, they totally got it right – even for someone like me, who adores Supernatural and has written five books on the show and the fandom!

I was at the Supernatural convention in Denver last weekend, and there was quite a bit of talk about the new parody, which both fans and Supernatural stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles had high praise for. Jensen in particular was impressed with the production value and the professionalism of the set and the shoot, and especially with the realistic proton packs that he and Jared got to wear – they sometimes had to take them off between takes because Jared kept bumping into the door and other things. Jensen seemed excited that the blasters really worked too, which I think means they were having a lot of fun playing with them! I shared those reactions with Hannah and Hilly when we chatted.

Hilly: He did keep bumping into the door, we can confirm that one. Hannah: I just know that Jared really likes to push buttons!

Lynn: Boys…

Hilly: The pack, though, really was the coolest toy. They were like the real deal, so it’s the ultimate toy and Jared was like, yes! I could just see his eyes light up.

[There’s a great moment on the behind the scenes feature where Osric shows Jensen how to pull out his blaster, and he does. Then Jared pulls out his, with significantly more flourish, and Osric grins and whispers to the camera.

Osric: The gentle giant…

Jared makes the blaster light up and then asks, with his eyes all hopefully lit up, “do you want this on?”

Hilly: No, cuz that means you’re killing us…]

I laughed out loud at that.

Cap sabalovesdean

Hilly: We haven’t been able to talk about it or hear from them since the shoot. They asked, “When can we mention it?” I told them you can’t until the video is out. So, weeks down the road now, it’s really cool to hear them talk about it.

Lynn: They definitely enjoyed it. So, after thinking about this a bit, I’ve identified ten things you got very right. I’m gonna go through them one by one, and you can comment, okay?

Number 1. One of the things that makes your parodies so brilliant and so loved by fans is that you really GET the show you’re parodying, maybe Supernatural more than even the other shows you’ve parodied. You were able to reproduce the show itself with the level of detail that fandom relishes – the kitchen set from Changing Channels, the library in the Men of Letters bunker, the proton packs with Dean’s little army man and the Colt and Sam’s with Ruby’s knife. Some of the scenes looked so eerily similar, like that iconic moment when Dean fires the Colt and kills Azazel in slow motion. How do you decide what scenes and what details to include and how much detail to put into it? It must take so much time!

Read more