Recently, I wrote about Jared Padalecki’s very open battle with depression. The Supernatural star chose to share his struggles with fans a few months ago and has been honest about times when he has cancelled appearances as a result. It was a brave thing to do since there is still such a stigma attached to mental illness but, if nothing else, the actor can rest assured that his fanbase is both loyal and loving.
Outpouring of Support
The Comic-Con in San Diego is one of the biggest television and movie events of the year with people coming from all over the world to listen to panels, dress up for cosplay and to look for their favorite celebrities. This year, however, something very special happened – more than 7,000 fans lit candles to show their support for Padalecki’s “Always Keep Fighting” campaign. The proceeds are earmarked for the To Write Love on Her Arms nonprofit organization aimed at preventing self-harm and suicide among those coping with depression and addiction.
The 32-year-old told his Facebook followers that he initially thought the lights he saw in the crowd were from cell phones but then he was handed his own candle and he realized that he was in the midst of an incredible moment. He wrote:
“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 see (sic) 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.”
Padalecki has made it clear that he truly wants to help others and he believed that being honest about his own struggles was the first step. He sat down with Variety several months ago and explained: “I, in the past, have had my own struggles of not [being] so happy with where I am in life, which is strange and I think it goes to show. Maybe a lot of people don’t know this, but Season 3, we were shooting an episode, and I went back to my trailer to get changed and just kind of broke down.”
Imagine how much it meant to fans dealing with depression to hear him utter those words! One of the biggest challenges for those suffering with mental illness is the sense that they are alone. Hearing someone they admire, someone with fame and fortune, admit to “breaking down” is extremely powerful.
To further encourage others, Padalecki added:”I say constantly that there’s no shame in dealing with these things. There’s no shame in having to fight every day, but fighting every day, and presumably, if you’re still alive to hear these words or read this interview, then you are winning your war. You’re here. You might not win every battle. There are going to be some really tough days. There might be several tough times in any given single day, but hopefully, this will help somebody to think, ‘This isn’t easy; it is a fight, but I’m going to keep fighting,’ and that’s why we did this [Always Keep Fighting campaign].”
The scene at Comic-Con demonstrates the importance of Padelecki’s message and bravery and helped reinforce the increasing solidarity we are seeing in our society. If we continue to raise awareness and show compassion, we can make things better for everyone.