On Wednesday’s episode of her new podcast, former First Lady Michelle Obama said that she’s been dealing with “some form of low-grade depression” this year, due in part to the coronavirus pandemic and the police killings of Black Americans.
In a conversation with award-winning journalist Michele Norris, Obama said that while she generally tries to stick with her routines, she’s been struggling recently with her usual 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.”
“That’s unusual for you,” remarked Norris.
“It is unusual,” agreed Obama. “And it’s a direct result of being out of body, out of mind. Spiritually, these are not fulfilling times. I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression. 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.”
“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,” she added later in the episode. “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.”
She said what has helped is sticking to her routine as much possible — while giving herself a break when needed — and staying connected with the people she loves.
“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, explaining that she and her family make a point to eat dinner and do activities like puzzling together most nights.
“You have to recognize that you’re in a place, a bad place, in order to get out of it,” she told Norris. “You kinda have to sit in it for a minute, to know, oh, oh, I’m feeling off. So now I gotta feed myself with something better.”