The Bible Study Cure

Why, after three years of sobriety, was she still depressed?

By Denise Allen, Norman, Oklahoma

As appeared in

Tuesday morning, nine o’clock. I sat in my old jalopy in the parking lot of the First Presbyterian Church, nervously smoking a cigarette and watching a parade of well-dressed women disappear behind the doors, going to a Bible fellowship class I’d told my sister, Donna, I’d take.

Their makeup, their hair, their skirts and heels, everything about them seemed perfect. I looked at myself in the rearview mirror. No makeup. Messy ponytail. I’d worn my everyday clothes, jeans and a T-shirt.

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I wanted to start the car and go right back home. Not just because I looked so different from them. It was more because if those women knew the way that I had once lived my life—knew who I really was—they would most likely bar the door.

Joining a Bible study wasn’t something that I had given much thought to before. That was my daddy’s department. He taught Bible history, and the Bible was his textbook. We went to church as a family but didn’t really talk about God otherwise. To me, the Bible was just another book.

And I wasn’t much of a reader, or a student. Not since the eighth grade, anyway.

That year I was friends with a group of girls who seemed nice at first. Then one day at lunch one girl asked me to dump her tray. “Take mine too,” another said. “And mine,” said another. Next thing I knew, I was staggering to the trash can, trying not to drop the half dozen trays piled high in my arms.

I dumped the trash and turned back to our table. The girls were gone. They had totally ditched me! I felt like such a reject.

A terrible emptiness opened up inside of me, a sense of utter desolation, like I was all alone in the world.

I’d always felt different from the other girls, and their rejection confirmed it. I started hanging out with a new crowd who accepted me for who I was.

“Here, try this,” one of them said, passing me a joint. I smoked it so that I would feel even more connected to them, to feel like I belonged. Pretty soon I was getting stoned or drunk (or both) every day with my new friends. Booze, weed, then in high school, crack and smack. My parents didn’t know what to do.

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I stopped caring about anything except getting high, and escaping the sense of abandonment that encased me.

I managed to graduate high school, but after that I became lost in a downward spiral of addiction. At one point, I got clean and sober for a few years. I was diagnosed with depression and put on medication.

About two weeks after I started taking it, someone smoked a joint in front of me. “Can I have a hit?” I asked. And just like that, I relapsed.

I’d beg God for help and get clean for a couple of days only to be tempted into using again. The cycle went on for years. Sober. Relapse. Sober. Relapse.

I shudder to think what might have happened to me if I hadn’t gotten high and wrecked my car one day in 2003. Thank goodness I didn’t hit anyone. Somehow I wasn’t hurt, but I was put in jail for a couple of weeks.

One night, sitting in that cold, lonely cell I sensed rather than heard something tell me, I’m here. Or was it someone? Was God trying to get my attention? Lord, help me out of this, I prayed. Help me stay clean for good.

I knew if I went to rehab when I got released it would help my chances of staying out of prison...and, maybe, just maybe it would work.

So that’s where I went—a six-month treatment center. It was there that an anger at God flared in me. I couldn’t count how many times I’d asked for his help getting clean. Why had he let me suffer with this disease and remain a miserable failure all these years? Why had he let me down?

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“Fine, have it your way!” I shouted one day. “I’m yours. All yours. Do what you want with me.”

Little did I understand it then, but that was the first time I really turned my life over to God’s care. And in that moment of surrender, the seed of my sobriety was planted.

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Your Comments (9)

I can relate some to Denise's story. I live for my Bible Study group sessions and am sorely depressed away from my support system. God bless all here.

Being born out of wedlock to a mother that made more than a dozen attempts to kill me before I reached the age of eight, I can relate to depression. I penned these, and my meeting with Jesus in a book entitled, WALTER’S HOPE.

Good morning! Can you please tell me more about your book you penned, about your walk with Jesus?
May God bless you continually!

Love in Christ, Kristina

What a wonderful story. My Mom sent this story to me to read because, she said, "it reminded me of you." I'm always marveled and amazed at the gift of recovery no matter how many times I hear the stories. I am an alcoholic and have been sober since 2004. As my life spun out of control as a drunk, I dealt with most of its consequences sober, many of them newly sober, sending me back into relapse a few times. I stared trying to get sober in 2002 but it didn't finally take until 2004. Since that time, I lost my family, having had to make the choice of walking away from my two youngest sons and leave them in the care of their father to give them their best chance. My ex-husband had taken everything I owned, clothes, shoes, photos, keepsakes, everything. That was summer 2003. The following January, I lost my job. By the time of my last relapse, I was broke and living out of my car or with friends. I had just broken up with the boyfriend I was living with at the time, making my living arrangements more complicated. Long story short, like many of us alcoholics and addicts, it was when I had lost pretty much everything that sobriety took its hold.

Since that time so many years ago, I am still recovering and healing. Recently, I had to reluctantly accept also being extremely bi-polar, which has created it's own wake of destruction in my life, even since being sober. I thought I had left the agony of black outs behind when I got sober and I was wrong. A few years ago I started having whole clumps of time I had no memory of, but everybody else did and I had to hear later about all this crazy stuff I did and said. It was like I had some evil twin that randomly emerged and feared her ugly head, very Dr. Jekyll , Mr. Hyde stuff. I learned my black outs were due to extreme manic and extreme depressive episodes caused by bi-polar disorder. I started on medicine a couple months ago and as it's a slow process, I am getting better.

Over the years, I've been at different stages with my faith in God, even to the point where I truly believed he did not exist. But looking back, today I can say with every ounce of my soul, from the deepest part of me, I know God has always been with me, even in my darkest moments when I knew nothing but despair, He was always there. Even when I was sure He did not exist or if He did, He must hate me, He was there, helping me and doing for me the things I was unable to do on my own. He's been with me as I get my bi-polar disorder under control, helping me accept it and take responsibility for it. He's with me and my family as we each learn to cope with it.

I am re-married now, and my oldest son lives with us. Each day is still a challenge and I still stumble. I have my bad moments that can last days, but I have good moments too and they also last for days. I'm still learning, but now, I am totally aware of his presence in everything I do. I make it a point to make myself aware of His presence each day. Sometimes, I'm not strong in faith, again, I'm still learning, but knowing He has no doubt in me infuses me.with the strength and energy I need to fight whatever battle comes my way and with the love and joy that can only come from Him that allows me to understand the wonderful miracle each day I have is, and the wonderful people he has put in my life.

As I was reading this story, I read the bible verse Denise quoted and I wanted to copy it down. Like her, I need it's message too. I've been coming across many bible verses that I've wanted to remember for the same reason. Faith, courage, don't worry, don't be afraid, He's with me. Anyhow, I decided before I read any further that I was going to start keeping a little notebook with me that I could write them in. The one Denise quoted was the first one I wrote. Imagine how surprised I was when I continued reading that she had decided to do the very same thing!

From a kindred spirit, I enjoyed your story Denise and also know it personally.

Cindy D.

My heart goes out to you because mild bipolar is very common in my extended family. In relatively milder cases than what you describe it was pretty common to be just kind of messed up sometimes and not really be aware of it until it does serious damage to your life and relationships. The tendency to this disorder is passed genetically. But the devil comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. You don't have to be at fault in acquiring a disease for that disease to leave your defenses down and give the devil an open door to wreak havoc on your life. My mom goes through a long manic phase every 5 years and I have seen times when she absolutely was oppressed by actual demonic activity.

The good news is that all this is under the feet of Jesus. He came to destroy the works of the devil and He did that at the Cross. He healed many who were oppressed by the devil during His earthly ministry. Jesus never turned anybody away. Does the Healer live inside you? If yes, then Praise God. You can get more Word in you and be healed from the inside out. I am NOT recommending that you get off any meds. But God's word is health to all your flesh and His word does not come back void. Read your Bible out loud and proclaim it to yourself. The Bible says you need to encourage yourself in your Most Holy faith. Make sure you have received the Holy Spirit. The most life changing experience for me was finding Andrew Wommack Ministries a few years back. awmi.net has years of wonderful Bible teaching that is very practical to the needs of your life. Andrew Wommack is very plain spoken and a great teacher. His study Spirit, Soul, and Body changed everything about my Christian life and I now really understand who I am in Christ. I don't have highs and lows with the Lord anymore, and wonder where He went. I'm full of joy in Him every day and it has nothing to do with external circumstances. All these studies are available for free downloads online. They are all excellent. But please check out Spirit, Soul, and Body, God Wants You Well, Harnessing Your Emotions, and Self-Centeredness: The Source of all Grief. Please don't be offended at the last study that really benefits most people and no one thinks they have a problem with self. Bi-polar disordered people have a lot of coping problems because it is really a cruel disorder. Therefore there is a lot of focus on self. I think if you start going through the fabulous resources on this website your faith that things will get much better will explode in you. Please don't put this off. This ministry is changing lives all over the world. Also check out their Charis Bible College-Healing School. That link is now on the main site. Healing School just started 2 years ago and this is truly awesome ministry from a number of speakers associated with the ministry. Healing School meets and is live streamed every Thur. at 3pm EST, but all sessions are archived. It starts with one half hour of great praise and worship. The total is around 2 hours. I promise you this is awesome. This ministry, combined with my time in the Bible, has nearly completely changed who I am, for the better, in less than 3 years. Please don't put off going to this amazing resource. Victory is well possible for you. Don't expect it overnight. Just partner with Jesus to start the process of walking out of this. Warning! Andrew Wommack didn't grow up with this disorder and he is not sympathetic. But he is right 99 and 9/10 of the time. Several times I have heard constructive criticism from his teaching that applied to me. I love it. It's like a different perspective that caused me to do a quick 180. He speaks out of love and a real desire to see the Body of Christ be well, strong, and victorious - ready and able to serve the Lord. I hope you rush to get started with the glorious and free help. Share it with the family and see everybody enriched. God loves you. He will never forsake you.

Hi again Nosmo,
I can understand why you might look at it that way, but what God really calls us to do is to turn all things big and small over to Him. So if you look at it that way, even though there is terrible suffering in the world, God calls us to submit to Him in all things for His plan & purpose for our lives. The trouble is most people don't seek God's purpose but look to fulfill their own plan and purpose.
It began right from the beginning of humanity with Adam and Eve, who sought the only thing that God withheld from them, and when they disobeyed created a huge disconnect between God and themselves. The sin nature of man separates us from God, because God is a Holy God. There is only one way of reconciliation with the God of Creation, and that is through His Son Jesus Christ, His Death and Resurrection.
It says in the book of John that Jesus did not come into the world to judge the world but to save the world. In John 14:6 Jesus says "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
In John 3:16-18 it says "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world , but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
This is a decision that all will have to make and I pray that you will make a decision for Christ.

The point I was trying to make is that we should do our best to look after ourselves. We have been given this great gift of intelligence and awareness and we should use it to the best of our ability and not rely on crutches. I'm sure that's what God wants for us.
I cannot in good conscience ask God for help with my little problems when He could be stopping kids from getting killed in Newtown and stopping starvation in Africa and many other things.

Like you, I have an addictive personality. Whenever I start something, I always overdo it. I decided to turn that into something positive. Running and bike riding became my new addiction. I can't get enough of it and I feel so much better.
For me, sitting with a group and reading would be the worst thing I could do, though I'm glad it worked for you. For others, have confidence in yourself. If you believe God made you to think for yourself, then use your inner strength and change your life for the better. God must have better things to do.

The truth is that He doesn't have better things to do. He cares about you individually, and yes He does want you to have your best possible life, but He also wants you to know Him, as the Source .
I too was addicted to physical fitness, and that certainly built me physically and did indeed give me a better outlook on life in general, but there was no balance.
I too, like the author of the article that you commented on, was invited to a Bible study that turned out to be the same one. Bible Study Fellowship has brought me to the scriptures every day and that has nourished my soul.
So I am not saying you need to stop your running and bike riding but you might find more balance in spending an hour every day in the Word of God. Doing this with others brings accountability, fellowship with others, and like the dew that renews the face of the earth, so it is important to recognize that we need spiritual dew every day in our lives.
The study meets once a week for two hours, so it is very doable. There is a welcome introduction that you can attend, learn more about the study, and you will have an opporunity to register. There are day classes and evening classes so depending on your circumstances you can be accomodated. The great thing is you can join at any time and still benefit greatly. Check it out.! Just go to the website and find a class near you.