Insane Joy is the story of Grandfather Jacob as told to his grandson Joseph. Grandfather Jacob is an African-American male who survived and recovered from mental illness to become a successful writer, scholar, minister, and activist.
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Insane Joy probes the depths of obstacles and triumphs of successful recovery from schizoaffective disorder, one of the most acute mental illnesses in the world. Through his stern yet calming voice, Grandfather Jacob recounts his story to his grandson who himself is beginning to experience symptoms.
Insane Joy has a humorous and uplifting style to shed fictional light on a pending epidemic. Insane Joy is palatable to any audience, for anyone can relate to the resilience, strength, faith, and grace requisite to overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges. In reading Insane Joy, you will gasp, cry, and most definitely laugh a euphony of cathartic redemption.
THE CIGARETTE TEMPLE INCIDENT
As affirming as it is to say the phrase “I’m a universalist” and have
no one gasp, it is also incredibly taxing to argue about things
theological. As a result, I had more “episodes” during my first semester
in graduate school than I had in two years prior. And that is quite a few
fucking episodes, let me tell you! One thing that seemed to induce
episodes was a lack of sleep and of course one of the premier scarcities
of graduate school is sleep. So any given day, any day no matter what,
could be a day that I had to quickly excuse myself from class, drive
home, and call my wife in panic and terror. This, coupled with the fact
I was extremely paranoid about missing class, made for an interesting
semester to say the least.
One “episode” that must go down in history as the most hilarious in
reflection yet most terrifying in real time is what I like to call the
“Cigarette Temple Incident.” In a prior chapter I discussed “my
niggas,” those individuals whom I view as invaluable to my recovery.
Well, late in the first semester of my first year at the divinity school, I
had the opportunity to fellowship with two such brothers the night
before I was scheduled to tour a Hindu temple with my Hindu-
Christian Dialogue Class. Integral to this story is the fact that touring
the temple was an integral aspect of the class experience and so also
integral to my grade in the class. Normally, given that I had such an
important appointment the following day, I would have politely
declined these brothers’ invitation to go out for drinks. However, given
that I had a feeling about these brothers, I figured it was worth the risk.
So the night before, I was scheduled to tour the Hindu Temple, I
drank a bit too much, salivated over Salma Hayek in After the Sunset,
and went to sleep around 3:00 a.m. The following morning at 9:00 a.m.,
I had that imbalanced feeling in my stomach, was hearing a couple
voices, and said to myself, “Oh shit, here we go!” I woke up my wife
and told her that I was having the beginnings of an episode. She said,
“Can you go to the temple?” to which I responded, “It doesn’t matter,
I’m going anyway.” I went to my medications and grabbed two extra
Geodon’s and two extra Lithobids, drank them down with some water,
took a shower, put my clothes on, and was on my way!
As soon as I got in the car, I knew it was going to be a long trip out
to the temple. I was panicky and afraid to drive out of my condominium
complex. I turned on some Christmas music, hoping that the distraction
would calm me. No such luck. I was hearing several different voices at
this point and kept having to fight off the temptation to drive off the
road. I was having major stomach spasms and it felt like two or three
forces of personality were trying to assume command of my
consciousness. But in my mind, I knew that I had to make it to that
temple. This I knew!
Now I still smoked at this point, so I got out a cigarette and started
smoking it. This accomplished nothing! But then I had a eureka! I
pulled out a cigarette, ate it, and then threw up out of my window. This
was exactly what the doctor ordered. This ritual provided one to two
minutes of spasm reprieve and mental clarity. So for the next 50
minutes to the Hindu temple, I ate my cigarettes and threw up out of my
driver-side window. When I finally made it to the temple, I had to face
the unfortunate reality that I couldn’t just eat cigarettes in front of my
professor and fellow classmates. So I took off my shoes, paid homage
to Ganesha, endured torment for 15 minutes or so, and then informed
my professor that I had to go home due to a stomach virus, which is
actually not a complete fabrication.
Now the story should end here, right? Wrong! When I got home, the
episode went into full gear. I spent eight hours going in and out of the
bathroom to take cold showers and finally sleep saved me. Around 7:00
p.m. I went to sleep, woke up at 5:00 a.m. and proceeded to write the
two papers that I had due the following week. What is the moral of the
cigarette temple incident? If you’re going to get drunk with some
niggas before an important school event and you suffer with mental
illness, those mother fuckers better be cool as ice!