Stones in the Road

Surveying the Landscape of Our Lives






There are many mood disorders. They fall under the categories of :

Depressive Disorders

BiPolar and Related Disorders

Anxiety Disorders

Under these umbrellas of mood disorders falls disorders that are chemical disorders of the brain, situational syndromes and character-logical problems, and ALL exacerbate depression or are exacerbated by depression.


A clinical depression is defined not only by symptomology, that is what we see and what we feel, but also what we cannot see, and that is inside the brain. The brain is a miraculous conundrum. It allows us to think beyond its limitations and breathe without requesting it to do so, but it also can cause us to have a chemical depression.

Certain neurochemicals work conjointly in each nerve cell to make a perfect recipe, but when something goes awry, the recipe can flop just like a cake in the oven. However, it is much more important than a cake that is supposed to be a pound cake and turns out to be an  upside down cake. Lack of chemicals going to the right place at the right time can cause depression and ongoing, can wreck havoc in the brain long term. Sometimes more chemicals are needed to put the brain chemistry back on track.

In part two of this post, I will cover situational depression. You may look forward to at least two more posts in the series of depression.

Please forward any questions to me through the comment section of the website.

As ever-Be well~


Dr. Michaels is the owner of MindWorks on Call in Pinellas County, Fl.  She can be reached by email at or by phone at 727-278-8375.








Often my toy poodles stand on the edge of the bed as they want to get down onto the floor.  Often, before I can get to them and place them gently onto the hardwood, I say to them jokingly, “Don’t jump, it’s not worth it.” While this is funny to our family, jumping off or suicide is no laughing matter and contrary to what the song says, suicide is NOT painless.

I remember one Christmas day: I was alone with no job and no prospects.  I had cashed out all of my stocks and investments to live on for seven months while I was unemployed.  With this money I kept my house and my car, but not much else.  I was so lucky to have this tiny nest egg.  Lonely and alone on that Christmas day, I found a frozen hamburger patty in the freezer, fried it up, and opened up a can of beans I found in the cupboard.  What a Christmas, eh?  I was probably as low as I could get, but at no time did I think or believe that suicide was an option.  I bet you are thinking “Why the hell not?”  First of all, it is not in my nature to do so.  Suicide is ego-dystonic to me.  It simply means one’s ego would not think suicide is an option since the thought of ending one’s life is so distasteful.

There is always a lesson and a blessing in these less than triumphant experiences we have. The blessing was my nest egg and my belief that things would change for the better, and the lesson was that things DID change for the better.

Think of it this way: if I am as low as I can go right now, then my life can improve.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Today I drove over the Skyway Bridge to take care of some personal business in Bradenton, and I thought about the despondent souls who had used this bridge not to cross over to the next town in their vehicles, but had used this bridge to leave this life. Their intent was to cross over to an unknown place so they no longer had to deal with life on this life’s terms. However, nothing ever changes at that point.  Once it is done, it is over. There is no going back for a redo.

We have free will to make our own decisions, but we need to use that free will for making good decisions for ourselves and the people who surround us.

There are so many professionals, friends, and family who can be a great support during the “low tides” of life. We have all been through these low tides, and those of us who stuck around for things to change, have experienced the high tides again.  Life is like that, waves of falling apart and coming back to shore again.

So, the next time you consider suicide and think that it will solve your problems, think again, think twice or three times or as many times it takes to get off that bridge and get some help.

As ever~be well


If you know of someone who needs this free hotline, please pass it on.      th-1



Renee Michaels, Ph.D is the owner of MindWorks on Call and can be reached at 727-278-8375.

Surveying the Stones in the Road

    I had the pleasure of hosting my best friend from high school this weekend. Unfortunately, he was here for a family funeral but it was lucky for me, because I had not seen him since I graduated in 1980 (you can do the math) from Leon High School in Tallahassee. The oldest high school in Florida was our safe haven, especially drama class where we met. 

Roy and I joined forces to both get a sense of belonging and understanding. While he doused his troubles in alcohol and weed, I

bathed my troubled heart in dreams of Broadway. Still not having much in common, we met in the middle and became friends

although we were an unlikely pair, as I deplored drugs. 

     Still, Roy’s maroon Barracuda saved me  by driving me to places and profound experiences that were foreign, but

provided a welcoming unfolding of who I was to be. We shared 6-packs of Miller Draft (it turns my stomach now) at Lake Ella

right behind the police station . We were either going to be safe or crazy, I think a bit of both. He taught me to like beer and I

showed him unconditional understanding, even at our ripe age of sixteen. Roy remained a wild child and ran away from past

trauma with malt and barley and THC,  and I was a blossoming flower finding out there was more to life then living with

angry words, tears and poverty. While Roy had never shared with me or anyone what is was he was running from, in the

safety of my living room this weekend, he did. At that moment, the long space of time between high school had now


           Since our high schools days, Roy, the most unlikely guy to become a father, had become one. He adopted and raised a

child of three days old all by himself.  He gave a chance to a child who had no chance, coming from an absent father and

whacked out mother. His son is now 15 years old and a successful student/musician in high school.

   In our last moments together over a breakfast of bagels, after being clean and sober for many years, he said, “Renee,

raising this child, being a parent, has changed me and shaped me into the man I am today,  into a guy who believes in himself

and his decisions.” He said he decided that was the definition of maturity. 

             All these years have passed between us and it all came down to this moment. Through all the trials and

tribulations that we have both seen, the people we have loved and the ones that loved us,  we are like the Skin Horse, our fur

worn in places, a little worse for wear, but that is how we know we are real. So as we look back to the days of wild rides in a

Barracuda along the side of our best friend, we smile with fondness in remembrance of the bumps and bruises that got us

here, finally pointing us in the direction of our true north. 

As ever~be well





Celebrate the dash in between


Today is my mother’s birthday, May 31st. Had she lived, she would have been eighty-six.  Instead my mother died when she was sixty-nine. Renal failure. I was there singing her favorite song. It was not easy to get through.  I knew she heard me. The family had come and had said goodbye. It was just my mother and me now. Her last moments were spent with her hand in mine and my hand on her shoulder, singing to her through my tears. All the years of love, frustrations, good meals, fights with my father and homemade fudge had come down to this moment.

It was not a difficult decision to take her off of her dialysis as she was suffering being on it at that point.  Her doctor informed me well on what I could expect and he was accurate.

I set off for the fabric store to buy the black fabric to place on the mirror in the front foyer of my home. Placing a black cloth on the mirrors at the death of a loved one is a tradition of my religion, so as not to see the pain in the faces of the survivors. When I returned from the store, she had stopped breathing. I suppose she needed me to stop sitting vigil and to walk away and allow her to slip peacefully into the hand of God.

She was ready, I wasn’t.

Is one ever ready for death, especially the death of someone so beloved? As hard as we hope for some people to find their peace in eternity, we still get left behind with the memories and their breath still left on our skin.

Traversing through our grief after losing someone close to us is undoubtedly the hardest experience we will ever have.

But I would like to share something I have figured out the hard way.

Life calls on us to move on, to move forward. Perhaps life cannot ask us to see crimson in the same way, even laughter may not seem as loud or as forthcoming; nevertheless, it is we who are left to carry on for those that have left us in charge.  Death is not an ending, it is a new beginning of rebirth. It is the end of form and the sojourn of a spirt into ultimate peace and happiness. For those of us who are left behind, it feels like an ending, like a death, but it is the beginning of a celebration of a life. A celebration of the true essence of a human life.

For it is true that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and when we leave, we transition from human to spirit. So, make it a natural way of dealing with goodbye by celebrating the human life of the person who has left their essence behind in you. Because life is a celebration, each day, and each moment is a blessing.

As long as we celebrate the lives of those that have touched us, their essence, their spirit will live forever.

Happy Birthday, Mama. I love you, Sug. P.S. (I made luchen kugel twice in 10 days and got a request for the recipe. Hope you don’t mind.)

Here is a recipe from my mama to you.

Luchen Kugel by Shirley Waitsman

1 bag of wide egg noodles         3 ounces of cream cheese

2 tablespoons of butter             1 egg and a splash of milk

1 cup of cottage cheese             little salt and pepper to taste

Add paparika on top before baking at 450 degrees for 45 minutes


As ever,

Be well~












My Mother’s Favorite Song


Stones in the Road: Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month.  If you didn’t know, I am glad I could inform you. If you are tired of hearing it, too bad.  Statistics tell us that one in four adults have a mental health diagnosis. I think the rest of us have yet to be diagnosed. For me, every month is mental health month as I work in the mental health field with real people, rich and poor, black, white and Hispanic. I see people who have served our country in the military, past and present, that have been horribly affected by their service. Even children, who have been caught in the crosshairs of their parents’ messy divorces and the aged who have lost their spouses of many years and now face their very autumn years alone are clients of mine.

Mental illness affects more than the eye can see. It crosses all barriers of race, cultural ethnicities, and ages; mental illness does not discriminate.  It does not care if you eat too much fat, salt or sugar, nor does it care if you run or bike five times a week.  Mental illness can affect anyone. No one is immune from a bout of depression or a bolt out of the blue that can knock you to your knees and cause a Brief Stress Reaction or full blown Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which is more serious and can last much longer.

Most illnesses represented in the Diagnositic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders are brain disorders, including but not limited to depression, bipolar and addictions. A brain illness is a medical illness and deserves the same treatment, care and concern as physical illness like diabetes.

In 1996 The Mental Health Parity Act was signed by then President Bill Clinton which made the ruling that Group Health Insurance plans must pay for and treat mental health problems with the same financial regard as medical problems. In 2008 another act was signed to include addictions. However, individual insurance plans still do not have to include any kind of financial reimbursement for mental health treatment.

NAMI or National Alliance for Mental Illness is the foremost authority on mental illness and serves to positively impact the lives of families and people exposed to mental health problems.  NAMI advocates and lobbies for access to services, treatment, and supports, and does research to improve the lives that are ridden with mental health disorders. NAMI can continue to benefit on the grassroots level through support in the community from grants and donations from people like us.  If you or a family member has ever been plagued by mental illness, you know how important it is to pledge your commitment to this worthy alliance through service and donations.  You may contact NAMI to find how you can become involved at

We have come a long way as a nation from bleeding people for hysteria to locking them in warehouses, but we still have a way to go before we release the stigma of mental illness and pay for its care in a more equitable fashion. No month can truly be set aside to celebrate or acknowledge an illness that is ongoing for those affected every day of their lives.

Education is the keystone to bringing a stigmatized illness out of the shadows and into the light.


Go well~




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