Michael was only 17, just finishing his junior year at Groves High School in Birmingham, MI, when years of struggle with bipolar disorder came to an end in 2009. “ He had been seen by therapist and psychologist because he was suffering from depression and anxiety,” said his mother, Elizabeth Guz of Franklin, MI. The family could see that Michael was anxious and depressed for a long time. Guz knew it wasn’t getting better even as they tried different medications and therapies and it only became worse as an adolescent. Through tears many years later, Gus stated, “My grief will never go away, but I could not let it define me or our family.”
First, the Guz family formed the Michael Guz Memorial Fund in conjunction with the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund at the University of Michigan Depression Center. The goal of the fund is to find genetic solutions for individuals with bipolar disorder and help them live better lives. Bipolar disorder is a medical condition caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and marked by significant changes in mood, thought, energy and behavior.
Knowing you have a choice and making the choice to do something while grieving is an incredible struggle,” Guz said regarding moving forward. “I am a very private person, but knew I wanted to help others going through this struggle.
The Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund made sense. “ We had seen how my mother-law suffered with mental illness over the years,” stated Guz. The University of Michigan Depression Center is doing genetic testing on an on going basis. “We feel so strongly about understanding the genetic link that this diseases causes in families,” commented Guz. The family in the midst of grief knew research and education for other families is where she wanted to dedicate her energy. “I use my grief and my strength knowing that we are breaking down the barriers and stigma and making people talk about mental illness.”
In order to raise funds and awareness, ELLA Designs was born.
Elizabeth and her daughter, Lauren (taking the first two initials of each of their names) had a vision to create a business where they would make beautiful jewelry while raising awareness and money for bipolar research. The ELLA Designs was created for the purpose of donating 50% of all proceeds to the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund.
“Since we began, we have had a tremendous response to the unique and versatile jewelry,” said Guz. “In 2013, I was overjoyed to be able to donate $25, 000 toward research and look forward to only doing more in the future.”
ELLA Designs offers original and unique jewelry. All of the bracelets and some of the necklaces are made with beautiful magnetic clasps making it easy to put on. “ I like to look for things that I like and would want to wear,” Guz said. “They are also extremely versatile and the bracelets can be added to each other to make a choker or longer necklace.” Many of the necklaces are functional as well as beautiful. There are working watches, magnifying glasses, whistles and lockets in addition to many other unique pieces.
Having had success at shows and house parties, Guz is excited launch the online store at elladesignsjewelry.com. Guz feels this is the next step to growing the business knowing with every piece made a purchased 50% of all proceeds benefit the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund.
“I see that slowly the negative stigma of people who suffer from mental illness being lifted, but we need to do more,” Guz said still with sadness and hope in her voice.
“Just recently, she met with members of the Prechter research team at the University of Michigan Depression Center who are doing groundbreaking research to make treatment more tailored for the individual by testing stem cells and finding what medications will work best.” The research will save lives. The Guz family intends to continue to honor Michael’s death to help others who suffer with mental illness.
Elizabeth (Liz) Guz and her husband, Dr. Brian Guz, of Franklin, Michigan established the Michael Guz Memorial Fund at the Depression Center in late 2009 in memory of their middle child, who passed away in June 2009 at the age of 17. Because Michael struggled with bipolar disorder throughout his adolescence, the Guz family chose to create a fund to help accelerate research into the genetic basis of bipolar disorder through the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research project. Liz’s motivation is to help make a difference in the lives of other patients and families living with bipolar illness. Since its inception, the Michael Guz Memorial Fund has generated almost $70,000 in gifts to support bipolar research
For more information or to stop by for an appointment Contact:
ELizabeth & LAuren Guz – ELLA DESIGNS
Phone: (248) 733-5526
Bipolar Research Fund For more information, please contact:
U-M Depression Center / Rachel Upjohn Building
4250 Plymouth Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2700
Phone: (877) UM-GENES (864-3637) Prechterfund.org