Michelle Obama Opens Up About “Depression”

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Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is getting real on her new podcast. In the second episode, released Wednesday, the former first lady revealed that she’s been “dealing with some form of low-grade depression” amid this tumultuous year. But she says that she’s found some solace in maintaining a daily routine.

Too Many Crises

Ms. Obama cited multiple causes for her mental health challenges in 2020. “It’s not just because of the quarantine,” she said, “but because of the racial strife and just seeing [the Trump] administration. Watching the hypocrisy of it day in, day out is dispiriting.”

Still, the former first lady and bestselling author says that “staying in a routine, getting a workout in, trying to get outside” has helped lift her mood.

Racial Strife

In her conversation with journalist Michele Norris, Ms. Obama discusses the protest movements that have erupted across the nation—and the world—since the death of George Floyd. She explained that it was emotionally “exhausting” to live through “another story of a Black man, or a Black person, somehow being dehumanized, or hurt, or killed, or falsely accused of something.”

In fact, she contends that that exhaustion “led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life in a while.” Her anxiety caused her to struggle with sleep. She awakens in the middle of the night and unable to get back to sleep.

Daily Challenges

Sheltering at home amid the COVID pandemic, Ms. Obama says that she often feels “too low” to even exercise. She says she has allowed herself to “surrender” to those feelings on occasion, but she’s not too hard on herself about it.

“It is unusual and it’s a direct result of just being out of body, out of mind,” she said on the podcast. She added that “spiritually” we are not living in “fulfilling times.”

But that classic Obama optimism is not completely lost. She says that her family has taken to doing puzzles in the house, a fun way to pass the time. And her husband, former President Barack Obama, has been teaching their two daughter how to play the card game Spades. The small things, after all, help to keep her mind off of the larger crises.

The Michelle Obama Podcast” is now free to stream on Spotify.
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