How Jared Padalecki and ‘Always Keep Fighting’ Inspired an Entire Fandom

52 Min Read
Courtesy of Kelsi Sickmann, Staff Photographer

Supernatural is the longest running Sci-Fi show on television and it’s set to conclude with season 15, which will premiere in October. Its known for its incredible stories and talent, but what’s kept Supernatural alive for so long over the years comes down to one thing: its fandom.

The Supernatural fandom (or as it’s really called, the SPNFamily) is one of a kind. There’s truly so many things that make it a family; fans cry together, they celebrate together, and yes, they sometimes fight, but the overall message of the Supernatural fandom is one of good. It’s a fandom so many people turn to when they want to celebrate things, or share things in their lives. It’s where people turn to to make friends when the rest of the world might not understand. It’s a place where people can go to dream, and where people can restore hope in themselves and each other.

One of the most important things that brings the fandom together are three words: Always Keep Fighting. You utter those three words and most fans will recognize it. Most have an emotional tie to it and a personal story to share. Those three words — and the person who started it — opened up an important conversation about mental health, anxiety, and depression, and made fans comfortable to share their own stories, too. Since September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness month, we wanted to take a deeper look into Always Keep Fighting and how it changed an entire fandom.

Jared during an ‘Always Keep Fighting’ campaign

In 2015, Jared Padalecki opened up about his struggle with depression to Variety. He launched a t-shirt campaign through Represent to benefit To Write Love on Her Arms — a charity that is best known to help people with suicidal thoughts, mental health, depression, and anxiety. In that interview with Variety, Padalecki says that, “I, for a long time, have been passionate about people dealing with mental illness and struggling with depression, or addiction, or having suicidal thoughts and, strangely enough, it’s almost like the life I live, as well.” It was a huge move for the actor to open up so honestly. Most actors and celebrities now a days aren’t as open with struggles. You see their lives through the lens they want you to see, and most aren’t as honest to say, “I’m struggling,” like Padalecki did.

So, the Always Keep Fighting campaign launched; it consisted of the slogan and a design that was sold on merchandise such as t-shirts. Since the original launch in 2015, Always Keep Fighting has had a few relaunches and new designs, while maintaining the same message. Hundreds of thousands of pieces were sold, with all proceeds continuing to going to charity. Fans alike were opening up the conversation about their mental health, and sharing stories about their personal struggles. They found others who shared similar stories and really bonded together.

The stories and impact didn’t end with the campaign. At almost every event now, whether it be Supernatural conventions or San Diego Comic-Con, it’s become such an open topic that Jared, as well as fellow fans, share their stories. It’s really opened the door to saying, “I’m struggling. We’re all struggling. Let’s help each other,” which, quite frankly, is a beautiful thing.

Jared continued to be a champion for fans and for people alike who were struggling. In the book “Family Don’t End With Blood” by Lynn Zubernis, Jared contributed a chapter that was so beautifully written that most people had a hard time not crying while reading it. Jared shared his struggles with a particular time in his life and you really felt at that moment reading it that, “Wow, Jared feels exactly how we feel.” To read his struggles, how he dealt with it, and to be on that journey with him is something so powerful and moving.

Image courtesy of Staff Photographer Anna.

Mental health in general is very hard to talk about. It’s an invisible ailment and there’s a lot of people who don’t see a physical manifestation — such as a broken arm — and don’t realize the full extent of what is going on with a person. There’s a lot of people who were ashamed or found it hard to open up. Always Keep Fighting and Jared Padalecki did wonders for the community to facilitate the conversation. It’s been inspiring to watch people open up and share their story, and the love they received back.

Some of the incredible people throughout fandom wanted to share their story of what Always Keep Fighting meant to them, and below, you’ll read stories about why this movement means so much to people, and just how it changed an entire fandom.

From the Readers

Katie M. (@geminiskiess): “Always Keep Fighting is like a light. A light turns on just as the darkness starts to surface. Always Keep Fighting is a different perspective on things, turning negatives to positives. Always Keep Fighting is a motto to always live by.”

Rowan (@jarpaddles): “Always Keep Fighting meant to me that even through the darkest times, even when life seems like it’s at the worst, I have faith and hope for a better future for me. I currently am in the closet as a transgender boy, and living with a family that I know will never accept me for who I am. I keep telling myself that one day I will be able to live as the man I want to be.”

Giovana (@deanwnchsstr): “Always Keep Fighting has inspired me to not give up on myself, on others, on my interests, on life. It gave me strength to keep going even in my darkest times, and made me see everything more clearly. It’s simple: keep fighting, or don’t. And having someone I admire and love so deeply such as the SPN cast, telling me to Always Keep Fighting? That gave me the strength I needed to keep going, it still does. And I’ll be forever grateful.”

Melanie (@FangirlLanie): “It means everything to me. I went into Supernatural literally as a distraction from a panic attack. After a 3 week binge of 11 seasons and 8 episodes, I discovered the actors beyond just their characters. It was eye-opening and completely relatable to read about Jared’s struggles, and how this family surrounded him with love and support. I was at my lowest, but I ended up getting my own help with therapy and medication, and now I live my life mostly anxiety-free. I wouldn’t be chasing my dreams if I hadn’t done any of that. I found friends and my own amazing support system within this family (Hi, Nerds!) to remind me to Always Keep Fighting!”

Ashley V. (@iconicmisheel): “Always Keep Fighting was a mystery to me for a while, since I only started watching in 2017. Once I got to know the cast more, I read about the AKF movement and I was blindsided. Here I am, in a fandom about monsters and ghosts, and an actor is speaking freely about mental health? And even more surprisingly, the fandom is responding with their own stories? I had never felt so normal as those moments when I read people talking about their symptoms and struggles that were so similar to my everyday fight.”

Cait (@HillywoodSquad): ” Before I joined this fandom, and learned about Jared Padalecki and the work he does with his Always Keep Fighting campaigns, I was scared to talk about my problems. I was worried that people wouldn’t understand, or they would judge me. Most of all, I feared that I would not be believed. Jared helped me to understand that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what your wealth is, mental illness can affect everyone. He helped me to open up, I used his story and his words to tell people how I felt, and it opened up a whole new world for me. A world where I wasn’t alone, where I had people to lean on. I would never have gotten professional help, or got the diagnosis I needed without Jared. I’m not longer ashamed of my mental illness, I embrace it as a part of me, and I take Jareds words with me every single day as I fight this battle, because I know he’s by my side. I’ll be grateful for #AlwaysKeepFighting for the rest of my life.”

Taryn (@waywardtaryn): “Always Keep Fighting is important to me because it reminds me to work through what is hurting me to achieve the things that make me happy. I like to plan good things to keep on the horizon to look forward to on the difficult days. It’s not always easy but when I really need to push through I think of Jared and he reminds me of the good things I’m still going to experience.”

Tiffany F. (@tiffiswayward): “AKF has so many meanings for me. I lost my cousin to suicide in 2001 and the grief of losing him was the catalyst for my own depression. I stopped taking care of myself and managing my type 1 diabetes because I lost any sense of self-worth I might have had. I was committing a slow suicide of my own, whether I wanted to admit it or not. And then, Jared came along with his Always Keep Fighting campaign, and he started talking about his struggles with mental illness. I had essentially come out of my depression at that time on my own, but Jared’s openness was yet another catalyst in my life to start paying attention to my own mental health. I started speaking out more about Matt’s suicide. I read articles about anxiety and depression, and I started learning things about myself and my childhood. For me Always Keep Fighting means finding the strength within yourself to fight whatever battles are thrown at you.”

Kate L. (@Katydid_is): “I believe that Always Keep Fighting is a reminder to find hope. I struggled with self-harm for 16 years, because I didn’t realize that my mental health was important. I felt that my life didn’t matter.”

Tamires (@TamyhWinchester): “The Always Keep Fighting campaign is my life, my safe haven. Always Keep Fighting is important to me because that’s what got me out of a very difficult time in my life that was insecurity with myself, I didn’t love myself, I didn’t feel it was enough, and if I hadn’t known the campaign or even Jared, I probably wouldn’t be here anymore. The campaign has helped me and still helps me to love me, to accept me just the way I am. so I have a lot to thank Jared for creating this campaign that saved my life.”

Erin S. (@murphmehard): “Last year, I was on different meds that made me even more depressed than I already was. I found an AKF Facebook page and followed it. I loved the inspirational messages they shared. One day, one of the admins said she was leaving as an admin and I volunteered to help out and be an admin. I am now one of four admins on the page, but the most active by far – not only posting funny or inspiring memes, but also answering messages from SPNFamily members in distress. I’ve talked to SPN fans of all ages, from every corner of the world about super serious stuff or every day worries. I’ve made some good friends there as well. My time there inspired me to apply for a sponsorship as an IMAlive crisis responder through RandomActs. I got it and I’m currently in the midst of training for that. I really love doing it and helping people see the light at the end of the tunnel when they are struggling. I wouldn’t have found any of this if not for AKF and Supernatural. They have literally changed the course of my life!”

Cori D. (@CoriDean13): “Always Keep Fighting is important to me because I have rare autoimmune diseases, Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, Stiff Person Syndrome and anxiety, and I try to bring awareness to them. And Always Keep Fighting means to me, to keep looking towards the horizon, maybe my story will inspire someone to not give up, not feel alone in their fight with autoimmune diseases and I thank Jared for teaching me that my feelings and fears about my diseases are valid.”

Lila M. (@CoyoteButterfly): “Always Keep Fighting means the world to me. I was in a dark place when I first found Supernatural. AKF gave me a reason to keep going even if I couldn’t see it myself. And I’m grateful for that. I wouldn’t be going to college or moving to South Korea if it wasn’t for them.”

Image courtesy of Staff Photographer Mandi.

Solitaire (@SolitaireAnn): “Having a chronic illness (Fibromyalgia) and battling depression and anxiety I felt like I was losing myself and I felt so incredibly alone. Seeing Jared talk so openly and the response from the SPN family made me realize I wasn’t alone and gave me the bravery to be more open and to meet people that have become pivotal in my life.”

Ebba (@Raaabherself): “For me, AKF means that it IS okay to not feel okay sometimes, you just gonna have to acknowledge it and get through the day, even if it is a struggle. Thank you Jared for being the amazing person you are.”

Angelica (JustMeAngieL): “It means strength, love, knowledge of someone out there who cares enough to help in the darkest of times. Recently I’ve battled Cancer, financial hardship due to the treatment of said Cancer, being caregiver to my elderly parents who are facing end of life issues, and my countless other medical issues. There seems to be no joy left in my life and on many occasions I’ve thought of ending it all. AKF gives me the strength when I have none of my own on many occasion I repeat to myself I AM NOT ALONE, I AM ENOUGH, ALWAYS KEEP FIGHTING, give tomorrow a chance, and then I read so many stories of my SPNfamily and think I can be a survivor too. I just have to keep fighting, tomorrow will be better. I just have to make it through today. Because Jared shared his story his empathy and above all his kindness when we share our depression and survival stories, it gives us the courage to speak our truth. AKF has made it possible for us to support, love and get each other through our daily battles. I wish I had the eloquent words to explain how much AKF means to me but all I have is words spoken from my heart. Forever Grateful to Jared Padalecki & AKF.”

Erica A. (@genuinelobe): “What Always Keep Fighting means to me is that even when life knocks me flat on my derriere, I’m gonna get back up, wipe my backside and ease right back on down that road. Everyday can be a challenge. Just to get up in the morning can be a challenge because you’re not sure of what the day is going to bring. But each day is a ‘brand new day’. A day to say, ‘Yesterday I wasn’t prepared for the rain, but today I’m gonna sing and dance in it.'”

Cortney H. (@Ugapharmd2005): “It’s a small phrase that means no matter what there is enough in me to keep fighting for myself. That I deserve to be here and if I choose to continue living I would have to fight every day. At the lowest point in my life, I thought I was worthless, a waste of space, and a burden to my family and everyone around me. I was ready to relieve everyone of the pain I was causing them. Jared was strong enough to share his story and he was caring enough to say that everyone of us was worth fighting for ourselves. He doesn’t know me from a hole in the ground, but he helped save my life.”

Dayna (@darkfireunicorn): “Always Keep Fighting inspired me to completely change my life. I was very overweight and felt horrible all the time. I could barely look at myself in the mirror. In May of 2018, I resolved to try and make some changes. I did not realize just how much would change, but in that time I’ve lost over 100 lbs, lost a 10 year relationship because of it, lost a job, got another one, and am currently still on track with my weight loss due to his inspiration.”

Image courtesy of Staff Photographer Anna.

Gwayne R. (@twindian2): “When I was 20 years old, my twin sister and I had made a pact to take our lives before we turned 30. We figured there was no purpose in us being alive as we had nothing to offer. A little show that could by the name of Supernatural came along and along with it came conventions, fandom and the SPNfamily. These are all crucial things that push me to Always Keep Fighting. But the main reminder came in the form of a campaign that Jared Padalecki had started as a way to remind fans to fight their mental illness and know they’re not alone and that they are fighters.”

Brooke (@cocklesbelli): “It’s reminds me, that I may be struggling, but A LOT of people want me to fight. It reminds me that I’m not alone. It reminds me that doing even the smallest thing could help and it would make the SpnFamily proud. It reminds me that I’m loved, and worthy of that love, and should keep fighting no matter what.”

Emily D. (@em_nicole718): “To me, Always Keep Fighting means never giving up even when times are tough. Everyone, matter who you are, is currently going through some kind of battle, whether that be an internal battle or an external battle. What matters is how you overcome that battle, and continue to keep-on-keeping-on.”

Alice (@Fullmooner): “AKF has definitely helped me feel more confident when it comes to talking about my mental health struggles. AKF even became my first tattoo and sits on my wrist as both a visual deterrent when self-destructive thoughts come knocking, and as something I can draw strength from when I’m feeling overwhelmed.”

Chazlyn L. (@GhoulPuppy): “Always Keep Fighting is a reminder that for those with mental illness, it’s a war between yourself and your #traitorbrain filled with battles – some you win and some you lose. The important thing is to keep fighting those battles – to never give up. The Always Keep Fighting campaign helps people to remember that they aren’t the only person fighting in this war, and that there are people in their corner.”

Kailey (@KaileyGross): “I can’t even begin to describe the magnitude that the phrase Always Keep Fighting has impacted not only me, but many in the Supernatural family. Struggling with anxiety and depression can be rough, enough to want it all to end. That reminder, that shred of hope at the end of the very dark tunnel, helps many of us keep moving forward and living another day. It’s a force to be reckoned with. It shows strength and courage and that’s why many fans connect with it. If you’re reading this, please Always Keep Fighting.”

Raven (@The_Raven1995): ” When I lost my husband to suicide, I was suicidal and was a time bomb. I had lost everything that meant something to me. I didn’t want to go on living because I didn’t have him anymore. This movement helped me to figure out how to express my pain. It helped me to find people that cared about my pain. I had found a family of people that were willing to help me through my pain and teach me how to live a life less miserable.”

Image courtesy of Staff Photographer Anna.

Nikki H.: “People with struggles with mental health aren’t alone. There are so many people in the world who understand their pain and the constant battles they go through. I used to fight depression, and it got really bad there for a while, but my friends helped me through it and helped me understand that I’m never going to be alone.”

Cayce K. (@CayceKBrabson): “I have two brothers, one who is 2 years older and the other is 15 years younger. Both suffer from depression and anxiety. Supernatural brought the three of us together and AKF has helped them open up about it. We own matching ‘Family Always Has Your Back’ shirts and when my little brother graduated from High School his cap had that painted on it with AKF in the middle.”

Norma (@normastump017): “Always Keep Fighting to me means family, strength and always believing there is light at the end of whatever crap you go through. I’ve watched SPN from the time I was six until now and when the mantra Always Keep Fighting was out and being used it was there during the many of difficult times that I had and when I felt like giving up I always remembered that saying and meaning.”

Megan (@Megan_cobb3): “Always Keep Fighting came to me at a very dark time in my life. I will forever be grateful for the kind words that both Jared and everyone who is involved have said. I love being a part of something that is so impactful.”

Montse (@Yell0w_Fever): “I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety for most of my life. I was severely bullied through school and High School, which obviously didn’t help much with everything I was feeling. That’s when I started watching Supernatural. I was barely 13, and I connected with Sam almost immediately. The girl who doesn’t fit, the girl who wants something more. But I wasn’t that strong and I gave up along the way a couple of times. I’m 26 now, and I’m starting to see the light out of the tunnel. It hasn’t been easy.”

Paige W. (@paigesworldd): “Always Keep Fighting. To me this means that you are going to have bad days, but you will also have good ones. I have learned to enjoy the little things. I have learned to love myself. I have learned that asking for help is ok. Always Keep Fighting has truly changed my life.”

Madison N.: “Always Keep Fighting means that even when things seem impossible, there’s always a way. There is always someone there for you, even if it’s a complete stranger. Always Keep Fighting helped me realize that killing myself may end my problems, but it’d create problems for those I loved. It helped me start talking to people when I need help. Always Keep Fighting helped save me.”

Philana P. (@L3naP_SPN): “AKF means taking another step, taking another breath, or getting to bed and waking up, to face another day. It’s hard, it’s sad, and it’s not always joyful. But we push through and get it done and feel everything. That feeling tells us, that we are alive.”

Alex H. (@WaywardFireGirl): “To me, AKF means that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to express how you feel and talk about things that in other groups people would shrug off and judge you. To me, it is incredibly important because in the SPN family anything is possible and we are all there for each other, even when we’ve never met. We are Family, and we Always Keep Fighting, not only for ourselves, but for one another. Jared has made this amazingly possible for all of us, thank you is not strong enough for you, Jared!”

Jane H. (@janieloves6): “When I found the AKF movement, i was in the middle of treatment for Stage 3B cervical cancer, with a 50% prognosis. That means that there was a 50% chance that this cancer would kill me. I discovered SPN, and naturally AKF, and found strength in numbers to face every day. I knew that whatever life threw at me, I could handle it, even if I died. I found strength in the AKF movement and have never looked back. I will Always Keep Fighting, even though I am pretty certain I will develop cancer again (twice so far; I expect a third). I endured a lifetime dose of radiation in order to treat my cancer. And I know that radiation causes cancer. So I am fully expecting another diagnosis. But I am living my life today in such a way that my kids will know that I loved them beyond measure, and my husband will know that I loved him with the love of ages past, that there is nothing that I will put before the people that I love.”

Mikaele (@Kaele.113): “I love Supernatural and it has helped me through a lot of my sadness and it really has made my life better. When I think of Always Keep Fighting the reason I think of is to keep fighting is not just for yourself it’s for the ones who love you. Family, friends and anyone else you love, because if you stop, then you can’t always go back. There’s a reason why you are here, for a certain purpose and God gave up his life for us to have our life so we can keep fighting for him too.”

Nicky G. (@MrsG3395): “It gets me out of bed each day. Knowing that Jared can do it, that he can do what he does and still find time to share his time with us is awesome. It’s so hard to do even little things on the bad days but knowing all of our fandom, the whole SPN family is on your side & willing you to keep going is huge.”

Image courtesy of Staff Photographer Anna.

Shamee (@Phoebe921021): “To put into short and simple words, a ‘constant reminder from Jared’, to keep going, to keep fighting, to stay strong no matter how hard it gets. It’s just like, a close one helping me find the strength through them & their words, when I can’t find it in myself. For someone who prefers to deal with it on her own, it’s comforting to have his words help to get the strength, to get through even the little difficult times on daily basis, thinking about how genuinely this sweet person cares about the ones around. He has helped me get back up when I’ve been low.”

Arpita (@Alisa_McCarthy7): “It taught me to keep fighting after I lost my brother. I had given up on everything but then I found a new ray of light because of AKF, so it means the world to me.”

Anastasia (@LoveAnastasia62): “To me it means that no matter how bad things get you shouldn’t stop fighting because the SPN Family will be there for you.”

Nikki B. (@waywardnerd67): “Always Keep Fighting to me means there is a purpose for going through the bad to get to the good. It is the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. It is the love and support of a family that does not know you personally but is there for you no matter what. It is the safety and security to be yourself. To allow yourself to be expressive and to feel those feels the world shuns you for.”

Amy H. (@akhetherington): “I came to the #SPNfamily late, but at a time in my life where I was struggling more than ever before. I had just come from an environment where you didn’t talk about mental health at all, because universities frowned on that and it made your advisors touchy, and admitting you were struggling was akin to admitting you didn’t belong in grad school. I didn’t want to worry my family, but I had to talk to someone, and reconnecting with an old friend was exactly the right opportunity. She told me about Supernatural, about AKF, and about how it was helping her. And finding this community has been the reason I am now able to talk about my struggles with others, even strangers. It’s the reason I started seeing a therapist and getting help. It’s the reason I have a control on my anxiety and am no longer struggling with the challenge of depression. It’s changed my life in so many ways and all of them for the better and I am so grateful.”

Katharina (@kathiii_music99): “I wasn’t yet in the fandom during the Always Keep Fighting campaigns but becoming part of the fandom and learning about these campaigns has helped me a lot. I have always struggled with self-hate and self-harm and anxiety for my whole life really. But knowing that Jared is also going through something similar and speaking out about it and hearing other people’s stories about overcoming their struggles really inspires me and has helped me to become more confident and maybe even hate myself a little less. Even though I still have a long way to go, it has shown me that I am good enough. I can just be whoever I want and that’s okay, the right people will love me for who I am. But most importantly, it has shown me that I can love myself without being selfish or arrogant. Love yourself first, you are enough and always keep fighting all inspire me daily and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.”

Srushti (@SrushtiOza): “AKF is really really important to me. Jensen and Jared and the SPN Family mean the world to me. They’ve been there supporting me, encouraging me and helping me with all the struggles in life. I really cannot put it into words. As a person with anxiety and depression Jared and his words, ‘You are enough. You are here. That means you’re not suffering from depression you’re conquering it,’ have helped me in times where I thought it wasn’t worth it to live anymore. AKF to me is the ray of sunshine in the darkness of the abyss, the hand that reaches out to you when you’re drowning. And it’s all thanks to Jared.”

Image courtesy of Staff Photographer Anna.

Jessie D. (JessieD_7): “For years I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety. I felt alone and ashamed therefore I kept it to myself until Jared launched the AKF campaign. When he shared his stories it made me realize I too can share mine. Opening up to family and friends helped me cope better and find ways to handle it the best I can. It still can be a struggle some days but I have a couple reminders to keep fighting. My tattoo that connects AKF and YANA (you are not alone) in the boys handwriting. And a bracelet my sister got me with Always Keep Fighting on it. I was able to show both of them to Jared in person and he was so enthusiastic about it making me realize he truly does care so much for all of us and our well being. Thank you Jared.”

Alyssa C. (@RevolutionInBed): “Everyone in my family has always been afraid to talk about feelings, so much so that despite being extremely close to my mom, brother, and dad, we always hid our emotions from each other. When my dad passed, the rest of us got a little better with expressing all that, but we still felt guilty about it afterwards. After hearing Jared talking about his own struggles with depression, I became more comfortable with talking about my own struggles with other people. I gave me a way to not feel guilty about it. And I’m thankful.”

Leah (@LeahWood1488): “It means everything to me. Jared and this family saved my life. They taught me when things get hard and you can’t see a way out, don’t give up. I am loved and needed even if I don’t feel like it.”

Senette (@SmilezS_11): “Always Keep Fighting for me means not to give up even when it feels like that’s the only option I have because that’s what depression and anxiety do. They make you think and feel like you don’t have a way out even though you do. Life’s never been easy but seeing Jared and Jensen and all the SPN family and fans and how they are open about these struggles and they Keep Fighting gives me hope and strength. The hope and strength I didn’t have in myself before. It’s really something beautiful when someone like Jared has similar struggles and he has made it through and has inspired others to do so as well. I’m not struggling with my anxiety or depression I’m surviving it and I’m succeeding.”

Sam (@SamJello): “AKF has always been my favorite thing to come out of the SPNFamily, I didn’t realize just how important it was though, I had been going through some things that had made me super down and at points it was just unbearable, I was so down I didn’t know what to do. On one of the bad nights, the only thing I could think to do was write AKF on my wrist, and it slowly helped, every day I kept one writing it on the same spot, and everyday it reminded me how important life is and to keep fighting. It inspired me to reach out to people, it inspired me to keep going. Jared and this campaign mean so much to me, it really helped me work through all the bad and keep going. Thank you Jared for bringing Always Keep Fighting to life and helping so many fans through the darkness.”

Toni (@tomko_toni): “Always Keep Fighting has kept me alive. I am 46 years old. Jared has made me realize this. I have so much to live for. I have been diagnosed with having panic attacks, anxiety and manic depression. I also have suicidal tendencies. What I have learned is that I have something to keep me going: my family and my 2 daughters.”

Robin T. (@Rtomblin): “I have suffered from major depression most of my adult life and managed to work, be a mother and raise a family. My kids are grown, divorced after 28 years and doing fine until a bad accident which caused a huge reduction in mobility.”

Ben G. (@StormMaster_Ben): “Always Keep Fighting is an anchor for me. I was diagnosed with Schizo-effective Disorder 4 years ago, and I use that phrase an anchor to fight off all the voices in my head when they are overwhelming. I know without Jared’s help for normalizing mental illnesses, I wouldn’t have had the courage to tell my loved ones what I had been facing for years and seek the help I needed. I would not be on this planet if it wasn’t for his amazing work. So thank you Jared. I know all my friends and family thank you as well for helping me out.”

Casey (@Moon_child923): “To me, AKF means to never give up. To know that you’re not alone and that there is a reason to keep fighting. Not only for yourself but for the people around you that care. I even got a tattoo in honor of the AKF movement to always remind me to never give up.”

Image courtesy of Staff Photographer Mandi.

Isabelle L. (@i_landreville): “I’m bipolar which means that I never know what kind of day I’ll have, even on medication. It’s always a struggle to fight every day. AKF has brought me hope. To remind me of it daily, I have a few tattoos with the different campaign logos just to remind me to fight every day, all day.”

Tanya (@tanyav3612): “Up until a couple years ago, I had no outlet for my severe depression and anxiety. Then my daughter told me about a show called Supernatural. I watched all 12 seasons (at that point) and was hooked. I went to 3 conventions and got to meet Jared and Jensen and I felt that immense family that was the SPN fandom. I learned about Jared’s AKF campaign and felt an amazing connection to him and his cause. Ever since then, I have been able to deal with my depression and anxiety in much better ways as I always ask myself, ‘what would Jared do?’ Meeting him changed my life and I am so grateful and thankful for him and his graciousness in sharing his story with us; his SPN family.”

Summer C. (@Summercox03): “What AKF means to me is, no matter what you’re going through, no matter how hard things get. You gotta keep pushing forward. From personal experience when my mother passed away four years ago (I am now 16) I was devastated and I was lost. I didn’t want to keep fighting. Then I found SPN and fell in love. I did more research and found this campaign and I watched all the videos and it’s truly helped my mental health. I was so depressed and I didn’t want to move on. I was a self harmer and guess what. I over came that because if Jared. I’m so thankful I found this fandom. I love everyone in it and I’m always here if people need to vent. Jared…….if by some chance you see this. Thank you. Thank you to the entire cast. There’s more to my story I’d rather not share. But thank you all. I love you!”

Elizabeth (@CaptDrgnPrncss): “At its core, that’s the way to make it through mental illness anyway. You’re never really cured and there will always be bad days somewhere. It’s absolutely a battle making it through those days and the only way to make it through is to keep fighting.”

Annmarina (@Ash269): “To me, always keep fighting is a reminder that no matter what I’m going through, I am not alone. There is always someone on my side and something worth fighting for. It’s a reminder that even if at times it doesn’t feel like it, if I don’t give up, I will overcome the darkness. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Its about strength & weakness, resilience & vulnerability. Life isn’t always sunshine and smiles, but when you have seen darkness and dealt with the sadness, you gain a greater appreciation for the joys in life, and that is why I always keep fighting.”

Gracella (@allecarg): “That it’s okay to not be okay and that everyone needs a helping hand sometimes and there’s no shame in that. Admitting and asking for help doesn’t make me weak. It makes me human.”

Lex S. (@Lexi199106): “It means hope. It’s important to me because it means I’m not alone there are people around who can help and relate.”

Daniella M. (@Daniella4Damon): “I have only been a part of this for 2 months. Each morning I wake and I read Jared quotes, they help me get the strength to be positive in my darkest moments, with out Jared & AKF I would be at breaking point. Thank you, Jared, for giving me what I need to fight. #SPNFamily you are enough.”

Jenna R. (@jennara44714930): “Always Keep Fighting to me means strength in times when it’s hard. For two years all my family knew was sadness. My family was losing all of my grandparents. After my first grandmother passed, I was still ok I had my papa. That next year I lost him, he was my best friend and was always there for me. I went spiraling into depression and thought of suicide. I found AKF through the internet. I looked into it more and it helped me so much.”

Rachel S. (@Betcato): “That there are struggles in life that will challenge you, and those struggles will get very hard. They may at times be so overwhelming that you can’t always see your way through them. However, it is important to do what you need to do for yourself so that you can always keep putting that mental or physical next foot forward. When you feel yourself taking those steps backwards, that you recognize it, deal with it for what it is, and not let it be the end of your world. That we are always going to have to keep fighting as in individual who may feel very alone at times. But we are not alone in our fight and we just need to remember to always keep fighting to a better day.”

Erin (@SPNcrossroad): “As a survivor of suicide, abuse & cancer, Jared’s Always Keep Fighting campaign & ongoing message (along with a tattoo) has literally kept me fighting for years.”

Autumn F. (@autumnfrancour1): “Having been diagnosed with depression and anxiety it’s scary, but to see someone like Jared having the same thing means if he can get through it and fight everyday and so can I.”

Dr. Lynn Zubernis (@FangasmSPN): “The #AKF mantra is in some ways the theme of Supernatural itself – it’s part of why the show resonates so much with so many of us. No matter what the universe throws at The Winchesters and Cas and their other allies (and occasionally their enemies too), they get up every time they’re kicked to the curb and keep on fighting. That has inspired many fans to keep fighting too.”

Always. Keep. Fighting.

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By Briar
Briar is the Editor-in-Chief of Nerds and Beyond. She has been running the site since 2015 with the goal of being a unique, professional news site dedicated to all the things she loved - and providing fans with the best content available. Briar oversees the day-to-day operations and runs all of the social media. She loves all things Disney, Star Wars, Supernatural and anything tech related. You can follow her @thebriarroseee.
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