Many years ago when I was on staff at the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, I was working on the reorganization of Senate committees.  A few people from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress were also assigned to the project, including a woman named Judy, their team leader.  Some of the suggestions coming out of the CRS team seemed to those of us on the Senate staff to be more than would ever be accepted by senators, so we were at odds on several points, such as really strict limits they were proposing on the number of committees and subcommittees a senator could be on.  Memberships are prized because many come with an additional office allowance for more staff.  (As I recall, Senator Javits from New York was on more than any other senator, about 65.  He had so many hearings to attend, he would walk in to a hearing in progress, be handed by his staff a piece of paper with a question pertinent to that point in the questioning, read the question, and leave immediately to go to another one.  He was not unique in this though;  it was a common practice.)   Sensing a need to calm the waters, Judy and I met over lunch one day.  In the course of a long conversation we got to know each other as colleagues and not just two people butting heads:  both Episcopalians and, not only that, both Associates of the Order of the Holy Cross!  Imagine that!  (Aside:  Judy and  Art, another of the team from CRS, married soon after this; left CRS; went to seminary; and are now priests in, last I heard, Southern California.)  In the course of lunch which became almost as personal as it was professional I mentioned being a little depressed.  Judy said, “Well, you know what depression is, don’t you?”  I thought I did, but I didn’t know what she thought it was, so I said, “no,” and she said, “repressed anger.”  Well, I did NOT know that;  I had some more vague idea of what depression was; certainly no notion that it had anything to do with anger.  Anyway, either she asked or I asked myself later, “What are you angry about?”  When I got back to the office, I sat at my desk for quite a while and just stared out the window, wondering what I might be angry about.  This was new to me;  I thought then that I am never angry;  actually, I still might think that.  Something did come to me though;  something related to something else I was working on, some resistance I was running into related to acquisition of computer hardware for budget analysis.  I figured out something to do about it and did it, and it was as if the sun came out.  That insight from Judy has been useful ever since.  Perhaps it will be to you too.  The next time you are feeling depressed, ask yourself, “What am I angry about?”

Ron Hicks, Verger, St. Alban’s, Washington DC

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4 Responses to Insight

  1. Susan says:

    Excellent & very interesting! Thank you! Susan

  2. Bob Witten says:

    Thank you, Ron. This is a lot of food for thought. I really appreciate youn writing this. Bob

  3. Christian says:

    Good input. Anger is often something deep-seated. For example, you’re angry that you never got real acceptance or approval from your parents. You’re angry because your brother was the favorite. Angry because you’re wife is hard on you. Angry that you are always under pressure to earn more $$.

  4. Cay Hartley says:

    I’m glad this insight was and is, helpful to you and others. However, there are many other thoughts about depression, including, of course, chemical imbalances and genetic vulnerability.

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