My name is Anita and I’m a community activist trainer and an avid Supernatural fan. Last year, I began to feel sad, anxious and depressed. To escape my thoughts, I began binge watching Supernatural from Season 1 and immediately connected with the show and the characters. It wasn’t just great story telling, it was the message, the bond and emotions that are hard to pinpoint. I felt at home watching the show.
Season after season, I was hooked. I began immersing myself in the robust Supernatural Fandom and found others were just like me. Society tells us to be normal, but what is normal? My normal is not your normal, Supernatural fans get it. We are the over achievers, the drama kids, the nerds and so on. We don’t fit into any box. With the community of Supernatural, I have found a home, a place of acceptance where I can just be myself and it’s been liberating to discover who that is. Part of the comfort in the Supernatural family is how we are strong for one another and are able to lean on each other.
At the same time I was binge watching Supernatural, I took monthly trips to Flint, Michigan to deliver water to the residents. As the Director of Activist Training for the Solutions Institute (SI), I have been working with activists, volunteers and non-profits from over twenty-two states as they embark on a mission to do what the government has failed to do: provide much needed aid and relief to victims of lead contamination in the Flint, Michigan water supply. In addition to providing water and working with local organizers to get the word out, SI provides activist training so that Flint residents can take control of their destiny. The water deliveries provide the same type of connection as the Supernatural family. Every trip allows me to connect with people who are experiencing great personal struggles, but who always find joy and hope in life. People like Teresa, who is fighting cancer, but comes out to deliver water to her community. Or Shawn, a mother with an autistic son who gives everything she has to help others. Each time I leave Flint, I am inspired by the community’s ability to keep fighting, to love, and to have hope.
After the February water delivery, I made a detour to DC to visit my mother. The day after I arrived, I learned of my stepdad Ronald’s death. So, instead of going home as planned, I stayed to comfort my mom. Together we laughed, cried and watched Supernatural. She was a Dean girl, too. I showed her memes of Dean riding the bull when she was sad and we listened to music. Friday we flew to our hometown of Birmingham, AL for the funeral.
On Monday March 6th, we buried Ronald. That night my mom was tired so I dropped her off at the hotel while I went to visit family. I didn’t realize that would be the last time I’d see her alive. Now I daily face the challenge of moving beyond the flashbacks of the moment I rushed into the hotel lobby to see her lifeless on the floor. These flashbacks play on repeat and they are always the same. Me, driving 100 miles per hour down an oddly empty interstate while being kept on the phone by a paramedic who is asking seemingly ridiculous questions about my mother’s medical history. Me, trying not to panic but feeling the fear of what was waiting for me spreading to every corner of my soul. Why weren’t they taking her to the hospital? Why were they waiting for me? Me, running into the lobby to see them trying to resuscitate her, but seeing immediately that it’s too late. She was gone, and I wasn’t there. Why wasn’t I there? These are the memories that haunt me and wait for me in the dark. If only Sam and Dean could exercise these memories out…but instead I have found my solace and refuge among our Supernatural Family.
It goes without saying, burying my step-dad and having my mother pass away the same day is traumatic in ways that can not be expressed. I joked about having PTSD until I realized I actually was suffering from it. This is when I began to feel isolated, and isolation allows you to believe negative thoughts. Being in the fandom has helped me heal. Before I could tell my family what was going on, I was able to share with my Supernatural family. I reached out to one fan after an insightful post about depression and anxiety. I felt all of the things she had written, but couldn’t articulate them for myself. She and others were there for me telling me it was going to be okay, which is all I needed. Just last week this same friend expressed feelings of depression and self-harm. We rallied around her and wrapped her in cyber love, urging her to never give up hope. The next morning she expressed her gratitude for the space to vent and be her true self.
Supernatural as a show offers something that is real for a lot of us. I think we need to see people who go through the unimaginable and still have hope. Our fandom is a powerful collective. We save lives and can make the world a better place. This is why I created Fan Fic 4 Flint. Born from the darkest hours of my soul and a connection between my two passions, Flint and Supernatural, this project is a way to use our power to change more lives than we ever thought possible.