Michelle Obama candidly opens up about her 'low-grade depression'

The former US first lady spoke about her experiences with her friend Washington Post columnist Michelle Norris on the second episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast. She said her mental health has been impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown, racial strife in the US and the "hypocrisy" of the Trump administration

Michelle Obama's podcast is a balm to bruised souls. She's open, honest yet always knows just what to say to lift spirits. She hasn't shied away from difficult topics and this week, she spoke about the toll the pandemic had taken on her mental health.

“I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression,” Obama told her friend and former host of NPR’s All Things Considered Michele Norris in the second episode of The Michelle Obama 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.”

“I’ve gone through those emotional highs and lows that I think everybody feels, where you just don’t feel yourself… There has been a week or so where I had to surrender to that, and not be so hard on myself,” she said, adding that she has had to work on giving herself a break and accept the restless nights that have come along with the realities and stresses of living in a Covid-19 world.


A heaviness 

“I’m waking up in the middle of the night, ’cause I’m worrying about something, or there’s a heaviness,” she continued, further building a sense of relatability. Her energy depleted during darker stretches of time, Obama revealed, adding that she’s had to “surrender” to the guilt of not exercising.

However, always looking to see the rays of hope, she explained she was using this time to reflect on what normal should look like moving forward, and emphasised that this was a chance to “decide how you want to show up in the new world – because it will be a new world”.

Then on Thursday, she gave an update, sharing a black-and-white photo on Instagram that showed her journaling and a lengthy caption in which she thanked everyone for checking on her before offering words of support for anyone going through the same.


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“First things first — I’m doing just fine. There’s no reason to worry about me.  ...I’m thinking about the folks out there risking themselves for the rest of us — the doctors and nurses and essential workers of all kinds. I’m thinking about the teachers and students and parents who are just trying to figure out school for the fall. I’m thinking about the people out there protesting and organising for a little more justice in our country.”


And she said what we need to hear time and time again during this sad and strange time – it's okay not to feel okay.

"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."

She continued: “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.

“I just wanted to check in with you all because a lot of you have been checking in on me after hearing this week’s podcast,” she wrote in the caption.

...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 videochat. Don’t be afraid to offer them a shoulder to lean on, or to ask for one yourself."

Never change, Michelle Obama.

Main photograph: @MBenhalilem


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