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My Humble Story
Julio Salazar

Julio Salazar

While trail running in late summer of 2013, an idea popped into my head to do something to bring more awareness to mental illness issues that affect us all and defeat the social stigma of mental illness. Why not run across the State of Minnesota? What better way to reach people and be able to interact with many of them? So, the first week of May 2015, I ran across Minnesota from west to east. The run took 7 days of an average of 34.3 miles per day.

I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for years, and for years it went untreated. A few years back I got tired of dealing with it, and I decided to seek help. At first I didn’t even know how to do that. It has taken a good network of people, therapy, and medication to improve. Most importantly, it has been my own will and wanting to get better.

I started to educate myself on the topic of mental illnesses. I learned that mental illnesses are very treatable. It takes time and patience, but it’s worth every second. For the first time in my life I feel healthier and happier!

I still struggle with depression and anxiety. The difference between now and then is that I now have the ability to know how to deal with it. I understand what triggers it, what gets me out of it, and how to bounce back.

I want other people with mental illness to be able to experience the preciousness of life. There is beauty all around us; let’s enjoy it! I also want people who don’t understand mental illness to learn more about it, and to know that it is real and not a fictional thing that people create in their heads.

One out of every four families in the United States suffer from depression in some way. So, you likely know someone, or will meet someone with mental illness. It’s important to learn what to do, what to say, how to deal with it. Let’s help defeat the stigma of mental illness.

If you have diabetes, you may need insulin to control it. If you have a heart condition, you may need medication, etc. Mental illness should be no exception. In many cases medication can significantly help alleviate the symptoms of mental illness.

With the run across Minnesota over, I decided to start running a different State every year in the month of May. So in 2016 our neighbors to the East will be seeing Defeat the Stigma coming through their beautiful State of Wisconsin. May 7th through May 14th, 2016 Departing from Algoma, WI and moving West to Hudson, WI.

Our Goal

  • To educate, encourage and inspire others about mental health issues and treatments in an effort to end stigma and foster hope.

Our Vision

  • To educate people that depression and mental illnesses are treatable.
  • To encourage people to live a healthier life through education and treatment.
  • To inspire others to talk about mental health issues and create support.

View the route:

Quick look, state (click to enlarge): Quick look, closer (click to enlarge): Detailed:
Google Map - Defeat the Stigma Run
Full Google Map Version (Best View)

The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional mental health advice or treatment for specific mental health conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a mental health problem without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. Please consult your mental health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

If you are feeling suicidal, thinking about hurting yourself, or are concerned that someone you know may be in danger of hurting himself or herself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is staffed by certified crisis response professionals.