Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama explains why the recent racial unrest in America has taken its toll on her mental health

Posted by for People

Speaking on the second episode of her new podcast, Michelle Obama revealed how the coronavirus quarantine and the scenes of racial unrest across America had taken their toll on her mental health and led her to experience “some form of low-grade depression”. 

We may only be two episodes in, but Michelle Obama’s new podcast has already given us a fascinating insight into the thoughts and feelings of America’s former first lady.

After episode one dropped last week with the one-and-only Barack Obama as the first guest, we’ve been excited to see what the second episode, featuring award-winning journalist Michele Norris, had in store – and it’s safe to say it did not disappoint.

During the episode, titled ‘Protests and the Pandemic with Michele Norris’, Obama spoke openly about the impact the current situation in the US – from the coronavirus quarantine to the “racial strife” exemplified in the death of George Floyd in May – has had on her mental health. 

“I’m waking up in the middle of the night because I’m worrying about something or there’s a heaviness,” she said, admitting that, despite trying to stick to a routine and “get a workout in” on a daily basis, there have been times when she’s felt “too low” to do so.

“I’ve gone through those emotional highs and lows that I think everybody feels, where you just don’t feel yourself,” she explained. “And sometimes there has been a week or so where I’ve had to surrender to that and not be so hard on myself.”

Adding that these periods of low mood are “unusual” for her, Obama acknowledged that this change was “a direct result of being out of body, out of mind”. 

“These are not fulfilling times spiritually,” she continued. “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.”

She continued: “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 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.”

The Michelle Obama Podcast is now available to stream globally on Spotify. 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.

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