It’s not common to see angels and demons agreeing on something on TV. On Supernatural, it’s all too common. Top crossroads demon Crowley helps the Winchester brothers and the angel Castiel in their fight against Lucifer to stop the apocalypse. Castiel and King of Hell Crowley strike up a deal to find a way into Purgatory to get monster souls to fight the Archangel Raphael. Crowley and Castiel help the Winchesters stop the plans of the Leviathans from conquering the United States since Dick dissed Crowley and lastly, Crowley and Lucifer/Castiel help the Winchesters fight God’s sister The Darkness.
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In the real world, Jared “Sam Winchester” Padalecki has the support of Misha “Castiel” Collins and Mark “Crowley” Sheppard in Jared’s quest to spread awareness of depression and mental illness. Jared has been selling shirts and items in a campaign he calls Always Keep Fighting which he started in March 2015. The shirts bear the inspirational messages like “Always Keep Fighting” and “Family Always Has Your Back” and features the faces of Jared, Jensen and references to Supernatural.
Aside from an angel and a demon, Jared also has help from his “brother” Jensen Ackles who have been doing live streamings on Facebook to spread the word to the SPN fandom and other people who’d tune in. The shirts are sold at Represent.com that also creates apparel featuring other TV series, films and pop culture references. The proceeds go to charity and to spread awareness of depression and mental illness that leads to suicide. The campaign is backed by the Supernatural production as evidenced by the apparel’s references to the show. You can check it out here.
Here’s the root of Jared’s noble quest:
On New Years Eve, my dear friend lost his battle with depression. This, unfortunately, wasn’t the first time I lost a personal friend to suicide, and it hurt me deeply, in a way that only a personal experience with suicide can. Though he wasn’t the first friend I’ve lost to suicide, I sure hope he’s the last. I wish I had the chance to go back and tell them what they meant to me. I wish I had the chance to beg them to seek help, to keep fighting. I wish they knew that they were surrounded by countless others who struggle on a daily basis.
I hope that this campaign, while raising money for a wonderful charity, can also raise awareness about issues that affect more people than we know. I hope it inspires people battling depression, addiction, mental illness and suicidal thoughts to be vocal about their struggles. I hope it helps people realize that they shouldn’t be ashamed of what they are going through, and I hope it helps people meet and find new friends that they can relate to. I hope it helps people take pride in the fight that they have been fighting, and gives them a push to never give up or give in. I hope it helps inspire people to keep fighting. no matter how hard it is.
For people who deal with mental illness, depression, addiction or suicidal thoughts, every day can bring about new struggles. Every hour and every minute can seem to bring insurmountable odds of happiness. I hope that the simple message of “always keep fighting” can help to bolster somebody through a tough time. I also hope this campaign can help alleviate some of the stigma that the terms “mental illness” and “depression” sometimes evokes.
Everybody has either dealt with these issues themselves, or had a loved one who deal with them. It’s time for us to put these issues front and center and not be ashamed of the path we are walking. If you’re out there and need help, please seek it. Be proud of your valiant day-to-day struggle. There is no shame in needing support. I hope this campaign will help you be vocal about your own struggles, or vocal in your support of those who might need a helping hand. Most of all, when life seems to want to beat you down, I hope you Always Keep Fighting.
Supernatural is the perfect vehicle for Jared’s campaign as the long-running TV series centers not only on saving people and hunting things but on the importance of family. The show features love, sacrifice and the complex relationships between siblings, parents, friends and comrades. As hunter Bobby Singer said, “Family don’t end in blood!” means that we can also consider our best, longtime friends as family. And even though family can sometimes make you irate or miserable, in the end they have your back. You can count on them for love and support during trying times.
People in the throes of depression shouldn’t have to handle their issues alone. There’s family to count on and in case of their absence, there’s friends or there’s both. That’s the message Padalecki and Friends seek to share to everyone especially the depressed. But in case there’s the absence of friends and family, the campaign urges the depressed to seek help, to always keep fighting and not take their own lives. Stewart in the The Big Bang Theory could sure use one and even though it’s a different production, it would be great to feature SPN in an episode.
Jared has also spoken of his own mental health issues which makes the campaign all the more important for him. His message inspired fans to speak up and support each other.
“Loving yourself is vital in the fight against mental health problems, so I want to encourage y’all to focus on loving yourselves first… each and every one of you is worthy.”
— Jensen Ackles
Misha Collins and Mark Sheppard also have their own T-Shirt campaigns to fund their respective causes. Misha started the Random Acts movement to raise funds for various charitable activities beginning with aid to Haiti and Pakistan while Mark Sheppard’s “Make Hell Great Again” T-shirt sought to raise money to help children with diabetes enjoy life to their fullest at a camp called Camp Conrad Chinnock.
Many fans of Supernatural pledged their support and bought shirts and other items not only as keepsakes but to spread the word. The campaigns have been successful with hundreds of thousands of shirts sold.
“It’s been brought to my attention that there are a lot of you who are buying represent.com/jared gear for friends who can’t buy their own. I’ve ALSO learned that there are people buying shirts for people they have never even met before. I just want to say to everybody who fits into those categories… wow. Y’all are outrageously kind human beings. Special souls, and you hold a place in my heart. That is EXACTLY what this campaign is all about! Reaching out! Telling somebody that, though you may not be able to fight their fights for them, you HAVE THEIR BACKS (LITERALLY, now! Hah). This campaign is about helping HOWEVER you can and if you are on the receiving end of these amazing gestures, pay it forward! Tell somebody it’ll be ok! Tell somebody that you admire their strength and their resolve! Nobody has an easy life. We’ve all fought (and continue to fight) some type of battle to get here today. Y’all continue to amaze and inspire me.”
— Jared Padalecki