We never started off intending to do something like this. Frankly we’re just as surprised as you are to be here. We were just two girls trying to get through life minding our own business and doing the best that we could. At the beginning of both of our diagnoses, not gonna lie, we were kind of hot messes. Gradually as time went on we started to figure a few things out. It took Mequell much longer since she’s not quite as bright as Ella. Oh, and also since she was diagnosed first. There was no one, literally NO ONE she knew of at the time living with mental illness or willing to talk about it. Luckily, many years later when Ella was diagnosed she did know someone living with it and willing to talk about it. And she knew them quite well. Because she lived with them. In the same house. It was her mom Mequell. However, even knowing that did not change the fact that the learning curve was still steep and painful. The difference was she already knew that with some work she could be happy and successful living her life with mental illness because she’d seen it with her own eyeballs.
Our mission here at Mental Illness Warrior is to first offer hope. Yes a mental illness diagnosis can be scary and hard but it’s not the end. Your life can still be happy, fulfilled and pretty incredible but you’re most likely going to have to change the way you do things and operate to make that happen. Mental Illness Warrior brings tools, wisdom from incredible professionals and practical ideas and solutions to implement into your life. We don’t sugarcoat the challenges, we are all about Real Talk and honesty when discussing the issues that come with a diagnosis of this type. But the good news is together we have many years of shared experience working through those issues. Although sometimes we’ve botched it, it’s true, we never stopped working at managing our illnesses. Sharing honest discussions about working our way through the struggles can hopefully help others, our fellow warriors and the cheerleaders who love them, to avoid stepping in it and instead take the tools and resources offered to shorten their own learning curve.
We have some pretty cool merch because it’s important to look like a team and have awesome uniforms when embarking on a challenging journey and also so we can identify our fellow teammates and cheerleaders when we’re out in the world. We offer some of our favorite items for daily management like mood trackers and pill boxes but we only offer the most hip and stylish ones because even though we’re all about functionality there’s no reason those functional things can’t also be trendy and beautiful.
We hope you laugh out loud and maybe even cry out loud but more than anything we hope you feel loved, supported, empowered and encouraged that your life can still be everything you hoped it could be. You’ve got this and we’ve got you. Welcome our fellow warriors.
Meet Mequell. Mequell grew up knowing she was fierce and unstoppable. She trained in competitive gymnastics and as a teenager was ranked 1st in the Western United States on the balance beam and 4th overall. She went on to compete for the BYU gymnastics team where she graduated with a degree in Research and Statistical Analysis. She served a mission for her church and that was where she first started experiencing debilitating symptoms of mental illness. She was smacked down pretty hard for a long period of time which culminated in a suicide attempt and after that she wasn’t sure if she knew she was fierce or unstoppable anymore.
When Mequell was first diagnosed with Bipolar Type 2 she was FREAKED. OUT. With a capital Freak. She just needed someone to put their hands on her shoulders, look her in the eyes and say “LIS.TEN. I know you’re scared but everything is gonna be fine. Trust me. This is all you gotta do.” She needed someone to point the way, give her a roadmap and help her laugh through the hard. Even though many of the things she learned could have been shared by someone with some experience living with a Bipolar diagnosis, unfortunately no one did and she had to navigate it all by herself. Thanks for nothing everyone. After ineptly banging around for much too long she finally started to get a handle on her illness, available resources, and management tools with a whole lotta practice implementing all of them. Once she became stable and truly began to thrive she started to have people reach out to ask if she would talk with their sister, their friend or their husband. She found she was giving the same advice over and over again so she wrote it all down in a very rudimentary packet which she gave out ahead of time. That way, when the conversation did happen, it could be better and even more helpful for that individual. Thus was the humble beginning of her book “Thriving with Mental Illness.”
Classes and speaking engagements began in the same slow, snowball kind of way followed by a podcast with her guy also called “Thriving with Mental Illness.” She has been featured several times as a keynote speaker and as a guest on numerous other podcasts. She has had counselors reach out asking her to share her valuable, real life experience with their own clients as well. The podcast is in its fourth season and Mequell now travels all around speaking to other warriors and the cheerleaders who love them.
Mequell lives with her husband of 26 years in Arizona where it’s warm and sunny and she can trail run, rock climb and paddleboard anytime she wants to.
Meet Ella. Ella can run the world. She is a graphic designer by profession, an entrepreneur at heart, and the most thoughtful person you can imagine. She’s also freakin hilarious. One afternoon Mequell was feeling a little down. She called Ella who answered the phone with “Hi Stinky Butt” which elicited an immediate belly laugh from Mequell. No conversation even required. You might think we’re exaggerating about Ella but just for illustration, when she was 16 she got a job at a retail store. After working there for just two weeks she put her nose to the grindstone and created an entire power point presentation about ways to make the store more efficient and the company more profitable with some big brain, out-of-the-box thinking. Then she contacted the general manager for a sit down meeting to go over her entire presentation. Yep, this ones got some moxie. They promoted her to manager on the spot. Obviously.
Ella has always been extremely high achieving. She raced track and cross country in high school training with the college team beginning her sophomore year. She was diagnosed with Bipolar Type I at 14 and has spent many years learning skills and acquiring tools to help her manage it and succeed. She graduated from high school at 16 and marched off into the great big world soon after kicking butt and taking names and maybe stirring up a few tornados for good measure landing herself in an inpatient treatment facility. She then realized there is no shortcut or wishing away the reality of mental illness and the only thriving that will be happening will come from hard work by using all of the tools she learned along the way.
She met the love of her life and they were married in 2022. She runs her own graphic design business as well, Elysian Life. So yeah, we weren’t exaggerating about Ella’s abilities. She really can run the world. Not in The President of the United States kind of way but more of a Marvel Superhero kind of way. That’s how powerful she is.
Meet Leonora. At first glance you might think that Leonora is just a dog but you would be mistaken. She comes incredibly well qualified and has multiple roles in the company.
Director of Public Relations: She's the face we trust the most to be consistent in interacting with the public because she does not actually have a mental illness diagnosis and consequently does not have to manage her energy and mood swings every day the same way Mequell and Ella do because when you're Leonora, every single day is The. Best. Day. Ever.
Government Liaison: Have you seen Legally Blonde and the chihuahua's campaign termed 'Bruiser's Bill: A Fight for Animal Rights?' Then you know the great work that dogs can do. Snaps everyone.
Director of Health and Wellness: Here at Mental Illness Warrior we understand the importance of taking care of our mental health. The best way we know to do that is to surround yourself with lots of love and affection. Leonora is the very best one for the job because she is all about lick licks and extremely generous with them. And even though Mequell and Ella understand the concept, no one seems to be very thrilled when they try to do it.
Company Spokeswoman: Leonora is the best equipped at petitioning for donations and funding to continue the important work of raising awareness and providing resources to be shared via the podcast, book and other fundraising efforts. Some people get annoyed when asked to donate but look at her facey face; who could possibly be annoyed with Leonora?
Marketing and Social Media: Leonora is pretty incredible at overseeing our social campaigns and developing content. You can learn a lot just from watching all of your people and she's not shy about sharing what she's learned. And let's be honest, people would much rather see an adorable puppy than two girls who spend most of their time in their pajamas. Follow her on TikTok @leonorathebipolarpuppy (content coming soon).
Leonora is not, however, very good at accounting because even though she isn't JUST a dog, it is true she doesn't have thumbs.