Michelle Obama has spoken about experiencing “low-grade depression” during the pandemic, saying it’s “exhausting” to continually see Black Americans “dehumanised” in the news.
Speaking on The Michelle Obama Podcast, the former first lady told journalist Michele Norris: “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.”
The second episode of her podcast, titled Protests and the Pandemic, was released on Wednesday. It sees the pair discuss the challenges of recent months.
“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,” Obama continues.
“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 it has led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life in a while.”
Obama compared seeing the video of George Floyd’s death to “those pictures of folks standing around lynched bodies in trees”.
“We talk about fear, you know, we talk about white women clutching their purses at the sight of us, or feeling uncomfortable when we walk in the store, but, I wonder, do you know how afraid we are? Because we know that there are white folks who see us as not human.”
To look after her mental health, Obama says she finds maintaining a schedule essential. For her, small things like eating dinner at the same time every day and waking up on cue seem to help.
“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,” she says.
“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 I’ve [...] had to surrender to that, and not be so hard on myself.”