J3! (Jared and Jensen and Jeff) at Minncon

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So where did I leave off in my Minncon adventures?

Saturday night I was invited to speak at the Attitudes in Reverse ‘In Their Shoes’ event, which kicked off the Minneapolis chapter of AIR. If you have not been to one of AIR’s events, let me tell you that it is tremendously powerful and moving to see all those shoes with all their messages – of doubt, sadness, fear, and ultimately of hope. Hope because it is people speaking out, talking about how they feel, reaching out and asking for help even though that’s tremendously hard. I’m inspired by the work that AIR and SPN Survivors are doing to combat the stigma that keeps us from talking about mental health issues and prevents people from getting the help they need. That’s the best way to prevent suicide – and if people can feel comfortable asking for help, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope.

That’s one of the messages of our new book, Family Don’t End With Blood: Cast and Fans on How Supernatural Has Changed Lives. It’s a story twelve years in the making, with chapters written by ten Supernatural actors and a dozen Supernatural fans. Every chapter in the book, both those written by fans and those written by the actors, is personal and incredibly powerful. Some of the chapters were hard to write, but every author persevered because the message is so important. We all hope that the book will be an inspiration to others to speak up and be real too, and to ask for the help we all need sometimes to get through the challenges life throws in our way.

Jared Padalecki is one of the actors who wrote a chapter for the book, written with candor and trust, and so inspiring I still can’t read it without tearing up and smiling simultaneously. He came to the AIR event to talk about his own journey – the help he has needed and the hope he has found.

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A common thread in all the chapters is how the extraordinary relationship between the Supernatural cast and fandom has been a source of support and inspiration – for both sides. At the AIR event, Jared didn’t leave after he’d had his turn at the mic. Instead, he reached out to a young girl who was crying, crouching down and holding both her hands as he listened to her and helped her feel grounded.

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Jared, Jensen and Misha at an Emotional Minncon (with J and J Meet and Greet Tidbits)

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All Supernatural conventions are emotional; it’s been that way from the beginning for me, because I’m so emotional about this Show and this fandom. Over the years, that’s only become more true. Not just for me, but for all of us – for the fans whose lives have been changed or even saved by an unlikely little show on the CW, and for the actors who make the show and have been interacting with the fandom for the past decade. It’s amazing, unprecedented. I’m writing a new book about it, with chapters written by those fans and those actors, so maybe I’m primed to be even more emotional than usual. But I think anyone who was at Minncon would agree that emotions were running high all weekend.

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