I have never been an exceedingly happy person. For those people who (offline) found me chipper or perky, well, I'm sorry, but I was probably faking it. On the other hand, I've studied two instruments, 3 languages, 5 or 6 different types of dance and I left a promising mainstream job to write for a living. The times in my life in which I was least creative or thoughtful were the times in which I was objectively the most content. It turns out, though, that according to experts quoted in the new Newsweek, I might be sort of normal like that. I can't say it makes me happy, but it probably makes me feel marginally less unique (which maybe makes me less happy). It's a cycle, after all.
There is a growing backlash against the pop-a-pill-get-happy version of recovery, in which those of us marginally depressed are encouraged to be more "normal" in part, according to teacher Jess Decourcy Hinds, "because observing another's anguish isn't easy." NYU Professor Jerome Wakefield (who co-authored The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Disorder) has students coming up to him all the time asking how to get their parents to lay off the Prozac-pushing because they want to feel their emotions sometimes. And, as previously mentioned, psychiatrist Charles Barber, author of Comfortably Numb notes that emotions — even those brought on by the loss of a relationship, a friend, a job, or a family member — are normal and meant to be felt rather than medicated away.