Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mania or Miracles?

Jim Raleigh lay strapped to a metal table, convinced he was Jesus Christ. As Jesus, he knew his mental powers could break the straps, but when the straps stayed put, he concluded he must be just one of Jesus’ helpers. Jim has manic depression, also called bipolar disorder. He was institutionalized 14 times before he starting gaining control of his erratic moods, which swung between excited mania and desperate depression. On a trip to the mall with the mental ward group, Jim noticed a book called Love is Letting Go of Fear. Having no money, he slipped the book into his pocket, unaware that the principles of A Course in Miracles contained within would heal his life.

Years later, now stable and at peace, Jim Raleigh has written Mania or Miracles? The Gifts of Being a Manic Depressive Personality. Jim is a courageous man, willing to expose his vulnerability simply to help others suffering with mental illness. He has the chutzpah to challenge standard mental health dogma, which states that biochemistry is the primary cause of mental illness, therefore, medication is the primary treatment. Jim purports that the fearful mind is the source and cause of illness, and credits A Course in Miracles for his recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Step groups have always emphasized the centrality of Spirit in the healing of addictions, but the mental health community has been slow to catch on to its relevance in mood disorders.

Jim writes: “The answer to my lack of self-control was the realization that the source of my anger was within my mind, but peace was also there. It was up to me to choose anger or peace. Choosing my thoughts determined my external world. The drugs, the therapy, or my choice of environment were just small parts of acquiring the stillness in my mind; the most important process was the choice of my thoughts. How does the racing mind slow itself to rediscover that the answers are already there? We just need to ask the right questions and train the mind to listen, and not wander off before the answer is provided.”

The answer provided is love, the mind’s release of its fearful sense of separation from Spirit, the recognition that we are totally loved, and that we are love itself. The inner voice of love speaks to all of us, all the time, if we but listen.

Jim’s journey is fascinating, and a must-read for individuals and their families recovering from mental illness and substance abuse. (Jim also became alcoholic because he self-medicated in a frantic attempt to tame his manic mind.) Jim is one of the 20% of manic-depressives who live successfully, as he describes, “beyond the cope.” Sadly, another 20% commit suicide from this devastating disorder.

As a mental health and substance abuse professional, I applaud Jim’s efforts to transform the face of mental health by bringing spiritual truth to the table. Mania or Miracles is available from http://www.amazon.com. Jim Raleigh is A Course in Miracles student and group facilitator, who can be reached at jimdraleigh@yahoo.com.

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