Jared Padalecki Rolls Out “Always Keep Fighting” Round Three

Inspired by the fan tribute he received at San Diego Comic Con and in celebration of his 33rd birthday, Jared Padalecki has released the third round of his “Always Keep Fighting” Represent t-shirt campaign. Proceeds from the shirt will go to a fund set up by Padalecki and his Supernatural co-star and best friend Jensen Ackles. The fund is designed to assist various causes that promote Mental Health Awareness. Past proceeds have gone to “To Write Love On Her Arms,” an organization that deals with depression, anxiety, addiction, and suicide.

“It’s been a struggle, but I’ve kept on fighting. My only birthday ask is that y’all Always Keep Fighting too,” Padalecki wrote on the Represent site. He has been passionate about this cause for several years, ever since he was diagnosed with depression during Season 3 of Supernatural (2007/2008). He started the campaign in back in March of this year and since then “Always Keep Fighting” has grown astronomically with thousands of shirts selling in just a few hours of each campaign.

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As both an avid fan of Supernatural and someone who has been struggling with depression for nearly half my life, the “Always Keep Fighting” campaign means a lot to me. When I see Sam and Dean hunting demons, suffering so many losses, and still having the ability to keep fighting every day, it makes me me feel like I can keep going, too. It’s taught me a lot about perseverance, but also how to lean on people for support; that love really does heal. Sam and Dean are strongest when they’re together and whenever they split apart, something terrible ends up happening: Sam allows Lucifer to possess him; Dean takes on the Mark of Cain; they need each other. I spent a lot of my life feeling alone and unable to get close to anyone. Ever since I’ve started watching Supernatural, I’ve felt like I can let people in. This fandom is truly a family and has taught me a lot.

Now that I’ve got a little extra cash, I fully intend on buying an “Always Keep Fighting” shirt to wear on my worse days and to remind me I might not be an actual hunter, but I can fight my own demons just as strongly. The shirt depicts Padalecki in his signature beanie sitting inside of a triangle, with moose antlers (a Supernatural inside joke) and the words “Always Keep Fighting.” Below that is a singular tea light candle, referencing the amazing tribute and its message that “…when your flame flickers and you fear it will go out, know not even the strongest wind lasts forever; and there are other lights to guide you even in the Darkness…And when your candle burns bright, you can ignite the hearts of others and hope will spread like wildfire. Always Keep Fighting, and you’ll never fight alone.”

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Padalecki and his two children wear the “Always Keep Fighting” shirt proudly.

The campaign has 10 days left as of news time. After that the shirt will be gone forever. It is available in multiple styles with sizes ranging from XS-5XL.

Sources: Represent and Padalecki’s Facebook Page.

“Inside Out” is Pixar’s Most Important Film

Note: This is not a spoiler free article. Sussing out your emotions can be a incredibly difficult thing to do. So often our instinct is to suppress our sadness, fear, anger and disgust because our lives are busy and it’s more convenient to deal with unpleasant emotions later on. We tell ourselves and other to “just be happy,” “suck it up,” or “be a man!” Children especially are told so often to “stop crying” rather than really accept their feelings. This might save some time, but the damage we’re doing by pushing these emotions to the side takes a major toll on us. What Pixar’s newest film “Inside Out” does is bring this damage to the forefront and advocates for being emotionally honest with ourselves and others. “Inside Out” takes place primarily inside the mind of 11 year old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), a girl who has just moved to San Francisco with her family and is grappling with the major change in her life. Riley is controlled by her five major emotions, Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). Each emotion operates Riley’s reactions through a control board and Joy tends to lead the group’s decisions. This usually means Sadness doesn’t get much time at the wheel, as Joy loves Riley so much she just wants her to be happy. Up until the move, Riley has had a pretty good life. She loves hockey, has a strong relationship with her friends and family, has an honest but goofy disposition and is described by her mother (Diane Lane) as their “happy girl.” Most of Riley’s memories are happy and represented by yellow orbs, yellow standing for joy rather than blue (sadness), red (anger),  purple (fear), or green (disgust). Joy is very proud of this fact. However, once Riley starts to realize how much her life is changing because of the move, things get a little hectic for the emotions inside her head. After a scuffle over Riley’s long term memories, Joy and Sadness are accidentally sucked out of Headquarters and into Riley’s long term memory bank along with all of Riley’s core memories, the ones that make Riley, Riley. With Riley in major distress, Joy and Sadness must find a way back to headquarters or she may never be happy again. What makes “Inside Out” such an important film is that it shows just how important actually talking about one’s emotions is. There is such a huge stigma on mental health that we often don’t want to talk about or listen to anything but what makes us joyful. We see Riley’s mother compliment her daughter on being so happy despite the difficult time their family is going through, and while the sentiment is well intentioned, it ends up making Riley feel like she can’t be sad around them. With Joy and Sadness stuck in long term memory, guiding Riley’s actions falls to Anger, Fear and Disgust, showing how children so often lash out during difficult times and how depression isn’t just about being sad. The longer Riley isn’t able to feel Joy or Sadness, the harder her life becomes. Unable to express what she’s truly feeling, she starts to lose her favorite parts of herself. She drops Hockey. She dumps her best friend back home. The strong bond she has with her family starts to crumble and she begins to lie to get what she wants. By the end of the movie, Riley is about to run away.

Anger isn’t always the best leader.

What’s more interesting than what’s happening to Riley on the outside, is what’s going on between Joy and Sadness inside the young girl’s head. While Joy is a kindhearted character at first, it slowly becomes apparent that she isn’t the greatest leader when it comes to Riley’s best interest. She is constantly pushing Sadness out of the way, determined to make only happy memories for Riley. She even draws a circle on the floor and tells Sadness to stay inside it on Riley’s first day of school to keep her from ruining things for the little girl. What Joy doesn’t realize is that sadness is just as important in life. When Joy and Sadness run into Riley’s old imaginary friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind), he leads them to Riley’s Imagination, which is under demolition. When Bing Bong’s rocket is tossed into the forgotten memories pit, he is incredibly upset. As one of Riley’s less used memories, he feels as though he’s becoming obsolete and the loss of the rocket just further drives in that idea. Joy tries to cheer him up by acting goofy and telling jokes, but Bing Bong isn’t hearing any of it. He continues to be upset until Sadness walks over and sits next to him. “I’m sorry about your rocket,” she tells him and finally Bing Bong opens up about his fears and grief; how he misses being a part of Riley’s life and all the memories they used to have together. Instead of trying to force Bing Bong to be happy, Sadness validates his feelings. “That must of been really hard,” she tells him and after a good cry, the imaginary friend is able to pick himself up and continue to lead them back to Headquarters. Joy is baffled by Sadness’ success.

Joy and Sadness work together.

The biggest message in this film is, “Embrace your emotions.” It’s great to feel joyful, but it’s also okay to feel sad, angry, fearful or disgusted. What’s wonderful about “Inside Out” is that it isn’t until Sadness is accepted by the other characters that any of them really find any solace. When Joy finally gives up being the leader and gives Sadness free reign over the control board, Riley is able to leave what would have been a dangerous run-away and goes back to her family. Once there, she opens up to her parents about how she wants to be happy for their sake but misses her life back home. The memories that used to bring her joy are now just sad. When she finally allows herself to be upset and her parents are there for her, a new core memory rolls into headquarters. Instead of being one color, it’s part blue and yellow; equal parts sad and joyful. It’s this new memory that fixes “Family Island,” the part of Riley’s personality that stands for her supportive familial bond. It isn’t until Riley accepts the fact that her life is complicated with a mix of different emotions, that she’s able to feel okay again. Afterwards, we see Riley thriving in her new environment. She’s playing Hockey again with her parents cheering her on. Inside of Riley’s head, we see the five emotions working together to help Riley score a goal. Along the walls are dozens of multicolored memories. The emotions have finally learned that each of them have value in Riley’s life. With the major stigma on mental health, this film might be Pixar’s most important project to date. It can be hard to open up a dialogue about our emotions and for children, being emotionally honest is an incredibly important message to instill. “Inside Out” serves as a good example and spring board for parents to talk to their children about the importance of letting yourself feel. Not to mention, it’s an incredibly well crafted story that both kids and adults will enjoy. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much during a children’s film. Films like “Inside Out” spread the message that it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling. Depression isn’t something anyone should be ashamed of. Emotions are something we should be talking in depth about, even at a young age. “Inside Out” provides the resources to do that, making it an incredibly profound and important film in today’s society.

Photos by Disney Pixar.

Parallels in Fandom: Partially Deceased Syndrome VS Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; What “In The Flesh” Has to Teach Us About the PTSD Stigma.

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Kieren Walker (Luke Newberry) Photo courtesy of the BBC

“I am a Partially Deceased Syndrome Sufferer and what I did in my untreated state was not my fault.” – Kieren Walker

In the post-apocalyptic world of the small (and recently canceled) BBC show In the Flesh, zombies have been renamed “Partially Deceased Syndrome Sufferers.” Through medication they have returned to their original state, memories intact. On paper, they have their old life back, placed back into their family homes, able to live the way they did before they rose from the grave. But in reality, things aren’t quite that simple. Living citizens are still angry over the deaths PDS sufferers caused in their untreated state, and in small towns like Roarton, being partially deceased could get you a bullet in the brain. Neighbors are terrified of PDS sufferers’ medication wearing off and that if it does, they’ll “go rabid” and return to being dangerous zombies. Most citizens want them out of their town and use the derogatory slur “rotters.” PDS sufferers are forced to wear makeup and eye contacts to hide the fact that they aren’t living anymore and the stigma is down right life threatening.

While In the Flesh is not the most popular show, characters like Kieren and Jem have a lot to teach us about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the stigma surrounding it. In just the first three minutes of the first episode, Kieren is shown having vivid, disturbing flash backs of the people he killed when he was in his untreated state. These flash backs continue throughout the show and Kieren becomes depressed over his inability to control them and the government’s lack of care.

Those who suffer from PTSD frequently have vivid flashbacks and nightmares of the trauma they’ve endured. Like Kieren, they can’t let go of the events that happened to them. PTSD sufferers often grapple with suicidal ideation, similar to how Kieren feels during the show. His sister points out that he “can’t kill himself twice” alluding to the way Kieren died in the first place. Feeling guilty for his actions, Kieren grapples similarly to those with PTSD.

Jem, Kieren’s younger sister, is a veteran who fought untreated PDS sufferers in the Human Volunteer Force (HVF) during the zombie outbreak or “the rising” as it’s referred to on the show. As the show continues, we find out that Jem is suffering from flashbacks, nightmares, and extreme feelings of guilt and anxiety. She shows all the symptoms of PTSD and with no tools to help her transition into civil society again, her anxiety just keeps getting worse. It doesn’t help that one of the people tied up in her guilt happens to be her brother, a PDS sufferer she couldn’t bring herself to kill during the rising.

Jem Walker (Harriet Cains) Photo courtesy of the BBC

Studies show that 1 out of every 9 women will develop PTSD in their lifetime. This makes them twice as likely as men. While Jem suffers because of her time in the HVF, this number is likely higher because 1 out of 6 women in the US will experience an attempted or completed rape at some point during their life. The stigma around PTSD is focused on veterans, but many people forget that rape victims make up a large portion of PTSD sufferers.

One fear that the living have about PDS sufferers is that if their medication wears off, they will return to their untreated state and become violent. The stigma around PTSD sufferers is very much the same. Especially with veterans, many people believe that PTSD sufferers are violent and will lash out at any moment. With the April shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas, this stigma has only deepened. Suspected of having PTSD, Ivan Lopez injured 16 and killed 3 before killing himself. While Lopez was being evaluated for PTSD,  there was never a diagnosis. Despite there being no concrete evidence of Lopez having PTSD, many people believe he did and have therefore attached the diagnosis to violence.

Ivan Lopez, Photo courtesy of Fox News Latino

However, the opposite is true. PTSD sufferers are no more potential to violence than anyone else. Blogger and PTSD sufferer C.J. Grisham writes, “I get extremely nervous in crowded situations and become hypersensitive to my surroundings. Before entering any building, I make a quick survey of all people around me and seek out any and all exits. I sit with my back to a wall so I have a good view of people approaching me. I get startled and anxious at unexpected and loud noises. What I don’t get is violent. What I don’t do is threaten people.”

Clinical Psychologist and Military Researcher, Herrera-Yee says of PTSD sufferers that “you’re more likely to see it as someone who is withdrawn, anxious and numb, who’s lost interest in life. Some veterans explain it to me this way: ‘The last thing you want is to go out and lash out.’” Despite this, the stigma of violence still remains, much like the stigma surrounding PDS sufferers. Kieran is small, and soft-spoken. He spends much of his time inside, avoiding people because he is ashamed of what he did. He takes his medication daily and is probably the least likely to lash out or go rabid. In fact, when *SPOILER* forced to go rabid by being subjected to the pill “Blue Oblivion,” he attempts to tie himself to a grave to keep himself from hurting anyone. It isn’t the PDS sufferers who are most likely to lash out, but the living surrounding them who treat them like second class citizens and want them out of their town by any means necessary.

While having PTSD isn’t quite as obvious to the untrained eye as the living dead, the stigma is still very similar. No one is threatening to gun down anyone who has PTSD, but the same fear is still very much there. Similar to Kieren having to hide his condition with makeup and eye contacts, many PTSD sufferers feel they cannot talk about their disability for fear of judgement and many feel ashamed for having it in the first place.

PTSD is a serious issue with a terrible stigma surrounding it. People who don’t understand PTSD (or don’t care to) can be afraid of people who have it. It’s important to educate the public about this disease because with knowledge comes acceptance. By using In the Flesh as a teaching tool, we may be able to get rid of the misconceptions surrounding PTSD.Though the show has been canceled, its messages are still important. Like Kieren, many PTSD sufferers are very much harmless and deserve our love and respect. 

For more information on PTSD and its treatment, please visit http://www.ptsd.va.gov/ for veteran focussed PTSD and http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml for general information about the disorder.

Cover photo and video courtesy of the BBC.