Michelle Obama Talks About Coping With Racial Injustice

Former First Lady Michelle Obama revealed that she is struggling with “low-grade depression,” amid the circumstances and frustrations that many Americans are suffering through at the moment. The constant barrage of bad news associated with the coronavirus pandemic, incidents of ongoing racial injustices, protests turned violent, and the “hypocrisy” of the Trump administration have left Obama feeling “heavy” and atypical of her usual jovial self. 

The Chicago native opened up with veteran journalist and former anchor of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Michele Norris, on the latest episode of Spotify’s “The Michelle Obama Podcast,” released on Wednesday (August 5). While Obama acknowledged a myriad of issues responsible for the state of her mental health, she made it abundantly clear that it wasn’t just one thing, but a culmination of sources.  

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“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 shared on the second episode of the season.

However, she does feel like the country’s leadership is a main contributor to her despondency. “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.”

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To keep her spirits and energy up, Obama tries to stick to a routine and stay as healthy and active as possible, but, just like for many of us, it hasn’t been easy.  

“I’m waking up in the middle of the night, because 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.'”

Like many who suffer from aspects of mental health issues, remaining true to yourself and tapping into the things that keep you in a happy space is crucial to a healthy well-being. To stay positive and balanced, the 56-year-old mom of two turns to her family for uplifting support. 

“I reach out to my family, and to my friends, even in this time of quarantine,” she shared. “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.”

Listen to part of the conversation below and check out the full episode of “The Michelle Obama Podcast” on Spotify. 

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