Former first lady Michelle Obama, in a new episode of her podcast on Wednesday, acknowledged that she is “dealing with some form of low-grade depression” this year.
“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 on the podcast episode, the second episode of the season.
The former first lady in the episode discusses mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing protests over racial injustice with Michele Norris, the former anchor of NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
She blames, in part, the Trump administration’s response to current events for her depression.
“I don’t think I’m unusual, in that,” 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 dehumanized, 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.”
Obama said she deals with the depression in part by keeping a routine, something she learned to do during her years in the White House.
But she’s struggled at times recently 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.”
“So for me, my spirit is lifted when I am feeling healthy, when I am surrounded by good people, you know, so I reach out,” she said, also noting that the Obamas have been gathering as a family to do puzzles most nights during the pandemic.
“I reach out to my family, and to my friends, even in this time of quarantine. You know, I fought to continue to find a way to stay connected to the people in my life who bring me joy, and my girlfriends, my husband, my kids; it’s the small things … because you have to recognize that you’re in a place, a bad place, in order to get out of it. So you kinda have to sit in it for a minute, to know, oh, oh, I’m feeling off. So now I gotta, I gotta feed myself with something better.”
The first episode of Obama’s new podcast was a conversation about community with her husband, former President Barack Obama.