Arts & Entertainment

Mental or Mentally Genius?

Olivia K. Paul

            Born to Junette Walker and Adrian McCullough, Acquilla was the only daughter of Junette for a long time. From her early years, she was spoiled and catered to for her every need. Because of this, Acquilla grew up to be very opinionated and challenging. 

Ms. Walker selfie-ready before her photoshoot.

Acquilla Chantel Walker is a unique individual. With such a drastic difference in our ages, my sister is easily my friend and foe. Acquilla possesses many dominant qualities today, but she was not always headstrong. 

            Ms. Walker attended Marymount Manhattan Community College, where she pursued her bachelor’s degree. Acquilla is very outgoing and naturally has extroverted energy. She worked part-time in retail and was often called to do photoshoots with various photographers. Maternal grandmother, Ileta Green stated, “Acquilla was always busy. At a very young age, she knew whom she wanted to be.”

            She strives to be a master of all talents. Acquilla can sing, dance, and act, spending her free time doing so. 

Acquilla Chantel Walker

During her college years, she was stressed due to her academic workload. She often took her problems out on anyone nearby in the crossfire. Most times, the anger was nothing but a self-reflection which she would often apologize and explain, defending her actions.

             In 2018, Acquilla Walker was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Learning about her disability and ways to live with it has been a huge change for the family, and herself. Her mental illness developed in college when she survived a very traumatic sexual experience. 

            Her assailant took her dominance and muted her. The experience left her psychologically and emotionally vulnerable. 

Labor Day 2018

            Acquilla is an individual who stands her ground and fights for what she believes in. Shortly, our family members noticed a change in her demeanor. Our uncle, Omar Walker, described some of her darkest times as a “wake-up call to mental illness.” He recalled moments when she would get into a rage and burn bridges with the people she loved the most. “I knew it was a problem way deeper than the surface.” 

            The wedge in our relationship came when Acquilla’s illness became too much for me at such a young age. I could not grasp the idea of someone loving on me one day and being cold and unpredictable the next. I could not understand the mental battles she faced until I got older and was able to experience them myself. 

            The strength it takes to pick yourself out of the darkness is vital to an individual’s health. There will be ups and downs, but Acquilla always made it her mission to fight through the intrusive thoughts. 

            The more she opened up to me, the closer we got. I got the opportunity to learn more about her. Her anger was rooted in fear since she felt nobody around her understood her troubles. 

(From left to right)- Olivia K, Myles Campbell, Acquilla Walker. Prom 2019

            Today, Acquilla manages a blog where she talks about mental illness and the representation of black women in media. The blog is significant because it gives her a platform to speak her mind and shows that she has made progress in securing herself again. 

            Martina Moore, her best friend, states, “I never gave up rooting for the little girl I became best friends with 15 years ago.”

            As sisters, it is natural that we may bump heads. I have appreciated Acquilla way more because she now has layers to her. She is most likely the most interesting person I know to exist. I understand her intentions more and her as a human being in general. Over the last few years, we have gotten much closer, and I would not trade her for anything in the entire world.

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