Depression is a serious medical illness that involves the brain. It’s more than just an overwhelming feeling of sadness and it lasts more than just a few days. The feelings depression cause interfere with everyday life and often cause people to seclude themselves from others.

The Mayo Clinic defines depression as a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.

The Emotional Impact of Tragedy

Waking up two weeks after an induced coma, due to being shot in the neck, to learn: that my cousin was murdered, my unborn son did not survive, and that not only was I never going to walk again. I was facing the possibility of not having any movement from my neckline down. That was both shocking and tragic. My heart sunk. It was like I was living in a nightmare. All I  could think about was how I was going to continue being  a mother to my three children with that prognosis.  Instinctively, my first reaction was to fall back on what I had the most faith in, God.

I began crying out and praying, “Lord, how am I going to be a mother to my kids? Father give me something. Please give me something I can still use in order to be a mother to my kids and I promise I will dedicate the rest of myo life to them and serving you”.

He answered that prayer. Shortly after my prayer, once dependent on a breathing machine, I began breathing on my own and slowly regained arm movement. My faith is what has continued to get me through every day, every step of the way.

Perspective Changes

Tragedy and loss tends to cause people to value life from a different perspective. They shift their focus from placing value on material things to things with much more meaning in life.

Adjusting to life with paralysis is an ongoing process and for some that process can be slow. I am now 11 years post injury and there have been many transitions I have had to overcome throughout the years. Like many the first 5 years were the hardest. It was at some point during my 5th year that things got so emotionally difficult for me that I attempted suicide. Surviving that suicide attempt helped me gain perspective and reminded me how much value my life truly had. More than value it has purpose.

Once I began living a purpose driven life and stopped focusing on the material things and physical movement I lost, life started to get a little easier. As I began strengthening my purpose, I began living a more fulfilling life and now things truly are much happier. I’ve turned my tragedy into a triumph by motivating other individuals with disabilities and educating the able body community on what life is like from the perspective of a power wheelchair user. I do this as a writer, speaker, dancer, and model. I take advantage of every opportunity I can to make a difference in someone else’s life and in return, I enjoy life.

Discovering Your Purpose

Sometimes trying to discover your own purpose can get so frustrating, but it is worth figuring out. Studies show that people who live a purpose driven life live healthier, longer, and happier lives. There are probably tons of things you really enjoy doing in life to keep yourself entertained and those things are healthy too, but purpose is about what you enjoy doing for others. 

Here are 5 easy questions that will lead you to discovering your purpose.

1.) Who are you?

2.) What do you do?

3.) Who do you do it for?

4.) How does what you do impact or change others?

5.) Does what you do bring you meaning?

Now look at my answers:

1.) I am Margarita Elizondo

2.) I motivate and educate.

3.)  I motivate the disabled community and educate the able-bodied community.

4.) It allows people to see life from a different perspective and breaks down stereotypes.

5.) This brings me meaning in life.

Purpose as you have read up above is more about doing for others than doing for yourself and in doing so, you find joy too! Life is a struggle and when you add tragedy, loss, disability, or illness to the daily “normal” struggle, it makes life even harder and easier to fall into a depressive state. When you take the focus off your burdens and genuinely help someone else with theirs, something magical happens. You forget about your struggle. Life simply gets easier. Take a moment and reflect on your purpose. How do you bless others? What’s your purpose? 

    Margarita Elizondo is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, producer/host of Wheel Talk Wheel Issues, model, author and an ambassador for the Los Angeles Abilities Expo. She was paralyzed in 2006 after an intruder broke into her home. Now, a single mother of three and grandmother, she pursues a degree in Communication at Grossmont Community College, and works for Axia Management where she designed a wireless phone service for seniors and individuals with disabilities. As Ms. Wheelchair California 2013, she is a strong advocate in the disability community and volunteers for numerous nonprofits. You can follow her @Ms_Hotwheels on Twitter and Instagram, or reach her on Facebook or through