Once the moderators opened the floor to fan questions, the audience held up faux candles in unison. The cast didn't know what was happening, but the audience called out, "Always keep fighting," in reference to Jared Padalecki's campaign to support people, like himself, who have struggled with depression. Jared shared the photo shown above on Twitter during the panel, and addressed the candle-holders, saying, "This is so touching and humbling and honoring ... I don't have the proper words to say thank you or how humbled and honored and excited I am and keep it up, guys. Thank y'all so much."
In March, Jared talked to Variety about his depression, and why he launched his T-shirt campaign to "Always Keep Fighting." Variety:
Beautiful. Good for him -- and good for his friends and SPN Family for stepping in with support!
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. These characters that we play on "Supernatural," Sam and Dean, are always dealing with something greater than themselves, and I've sort of learned from the two of them that they get through it with each other, and with help and with support. And 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.
A doctor came to set and talked to me for about 30 minutes or 45 minutes and said: "Jared, I think you're clinically depressed. I think I should write you a note and we can shut down production for five days and then we can take it from there." And it kind of hit me like a sack of bricks. I mean, I was 25 years old. I had my own TV show. I had dogs that I loved and tons of friends and I was getting adoration from fans and I was happy with my work, but I couldn't figure out what it was; it doesn't always make sense is my point. It's not just people who can't find a job, or can't fit in in society that struggle with depression sometimes.
Luckily, two of my great friends, Jensen who everybody knows very well, and my friend Kelly who I work with, came to my trailer to check in on me and talked to me for probably an hour or so and then, I was like, "All right guys, I'm going through a tough time right now. I don't know what it is, but I'm just going to keep my legs moving. I'm going to keep fighting." They let me go that day. They were like, "Hey buddy, go home. Call your family, and you're off work. Come back to work tomorrow."
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 shirt."
"Supernatural" Season 11 will premiere Wednesday, October 7. Additional reporting by Jessica Wedemeyer.
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