Michelle Obama: I have ‘low-grade depression’

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama, the former US First Lady from 2009 to 2017, says she has been “dealing with some form of low-grade depression” this year.

“These are not, they are not fulfilling times, spiritually,” Michelle Obama said to former NPR journalist Michele Norris for the second episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast.

“I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression,” she said.

“Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting,” Obama said.

Michelle Obama, whose husband Barack Obama served two terms as US President from 2009 to 2016, talks about mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests over racial injustice.

Michelle Obama
Michele Norris with Michelle Obama for The Michelle Obama Podcast. Photo: Facebook

She blamed, in part, the Donald Trump administration’s response to current events for her low-grade depression.

“I don’t think I’m unusual, in that,” Michelle Obama said. “But I’d be remiss to say that part of this depression is also a result of what we’re seeing in terms of the protests, the continued racial unrest, that has plagued this country since its birth. I have to say that waking up to the news, waking up to how this administration has or has not responded, waking up to yet another story of a black man or a black person somehow being dehumanised, or hurt or killed, or falsely accused of something, it is exhausting. And it has led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life, in a while.”

She said she deals with the depression in part by keeping a routine, something she learned to do during her years in the White House.

Michelle Obama, Barack Obama
Michelle Obama with husband Barack and their children Malia and Sasha. Photo: Twitter

But recently she said she had struggled with her sleep and exercise schedule.

“I’m waking up in the middle of the night, ’cause I’m worrying about something or there’s a heaviness,” she said. “I try to make sure I get a workout in, although there have been periods throughout this quarantine, where I just have felt too low. You know, I’ve gone through those emotional highs and lows that I think everybody feels, where you just don’t feel yourself, and sometimes there’s been a week or so where I had to surrender to that, and not be so hard on myself. And say, ‘You know what? You’re just not feeling that treadmill right now.'”

Obama went on to say managing “emotional highs and lows” requires “knowing yourself” and “the things that do bring you joy”.

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