Michelle Obama says MAGA, Racial Strife, and Covid-19 Sent Her Into a Low-Grade Depression

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Michelle Obama
On a recent episode of her podcast, former first lady Michelle Obama revealed she’d been suffering from “low-grade depression.” In this Dec. 9, 2019, file photo, Michelle Obama listens to female students at the Can Giuoc high school in Long An province, Vietnam. Higher Ground–a production company founded by Barack and Michelle Obam–and Spotify announced Thursday, July 16, 2020, that the former first lady will host “The Michelle Obama Podcast” on the streaming service. The podcast will debut exclusively on Spotify on July 29 (AP Photo/Hau Dinh, File)

On a recent episode of her podcast, former first lady Michelle Obama revealed she’d been suffering from “low-grade depression.” Obama attributed her mental state to the current pandemic, racial strife, the upcoming presidential election and other issues America is facing.

“I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression,” Obama said on the second episode of her popular namesake podcast. “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. … And I’m waking up in the middle of the night, cause I’m worrying about something, or there’s a heaviness.”

“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, and it, it has led to a weight, that I haven’t felt in my life, in, in a while,” Obama added.

She said she’s been managing her depression by not being so hard on herself, exercising, going outside, sticking to a routine and having family time with husband President Barack Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha.

“I’ve gone through those emotional highs and lows that I think everybody feels, where you just don’t feel yourself,” Obama said. “And sometimes I’ve, there’ve 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.”

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Mental health advocacy groups thanked Obama for her transparency, according to The Guardian.

“Thank you for talking openly about how you are managing your depression @MichelleObama,” the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) tweeted. “Talking about how we manage our mental health, especially at times like these, reduces stigma and creates a more inclusive society.”

Obama had the candid conversation with journalist Michelle Norris. She encouraged others to be honest about their mental health in these difficult times on Instagram and asked her audience to weigh in on how they’d been managing.

“I want to hear about the conversations you’ve been having with your family and friends during this pandemic. How are you all managing it?” Obama tweeted.

“The idea that what this country is going through shouldn’t have any effect on us—that we all should just feel OK all the time—that just doesn’t feel real to me. So I hope you all are allowing yourselves to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. I hope you’re listening to yourselves and taking a moment to reflect on everything that’s coming at us, and what you might be able to do about it,” Obama wrote in an Instagram post. “And to all of you who’ve reached out—thank you. I hope you’re also reaching out to all those you’re closest with, not just with a text, but maybe with a call or a video chat. Don’t be afraid to offer them a shoulder to lean on, or to ask for one yourself. Love you all.”