Bernice Lewis says, “Normal’s just a setting on the washing machine,” and she’s right. There is no one way to feel or be.
But I think it’s important to talk about our “new normal,” or living in the era of COVID-19. The Washington Post says that 34 out of every 100 Americans has met criteria for a major depressive episode, an anxiety disorder, or both so far in 2020. Typically, about one in 10 Americans meets criteria for a mental illness, and 6.7% have a depressive episode in a given year.
This is something to think about. A lot of people who come to see me at my clinical practice express concern about being strange or abnormal for needing therapy. Many of them have a history of trauma, stress, or challenging life events. When they explore it, they often realize that their mental health symptoms make sense in the larger context of their lives. I can’t count how many times I’ve told someone, “With what you’re describing to me, I’d be concerned if that didn’t make you anxious/depressed/etc.”
We are going through massive shifts in our world. People are stressed out, anxious, and depressed because we live in a stressful, anxiety-provoking, and depressing time. Behaviors that would have been concerning a year ago are necessary for our safety in parts of the world. It’s understandable to feel this way, and it is okay to ask for help!