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Michelle Obama says she has "low-grade depression"

Michelle Obama reveals she has depression
Michelle Obama reveals she has depression 02:09

Former first lady Michelle Obama has opened up about the "low-grade depression" she is experiencing during this difficult year — a year that has felt "heavy" for many, she said. On the second episode of "The Michelle Obama Podcast," Mrs. Obama sat down with journalist Michele Norris to discuss "our relationship with ourselves." 

She noted that a lot of things have upended life as we know it this year — from "outrage and despair, to protests seeking racial justice, to this historic and life-altering pandemic." All of it, she said, has impacted her spirit. 

"I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression," she said. "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 said.

Mrs. Obama said that living in the White House showed her that keeping to a schedule is key to staying sane. So she and her husband, former President Barack Obama, try to stick to a schedule during quarantine, like continuing to work out. Still, she has gone through "emotional highs and lows," where "you just don't feel like yourself." 

Later during the podcast, she said she doesn't think she's unusual in feeling low during this time. 

"I'd be remiss to say 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 said. "I have to say that waking up to the news, waking up to how this administration has or has not responded, waking up to another story of a Black man or a Black person being dehumanized or hurt is a weight that I haven't felt in my life in a while."

Of course, she said, there have always been signs of racial disparities in the U.S., from the criminal justice system to the economy and health care, to how some people treated her husband when he was elected as president.

"There were signs. That still doesn't take away the hurt and pain that comes with realizing so many of the people we share this planet with — the people we work for, whose floors we clean, who we tried to live next door to and tried to raise our children with ... that they still don't see us as human. What does it take?" she said. 

Mrs. Obama said conversations about race must be had between neighbors and colleagues to create a "vision for this country that we've all invested in."

On the podcast, she and Norris also reflected on how our vocabulary and mind-set have changed during the coronavirus pandemic.

"There are also words that have always had some meaning, but that take on different meaning. The word 'hero,' the word 'essential,'" Norris said. "I think we will forever think about the world 'essential' in a different way. When we were told to stay home [essential workers] got up, got dressed and went out into the world, risking their lives to drive garbage trucks, to work in grocery stores, to work in hospitals."

Mrs. Obama said the country must reflect on this and how essential workers are supported and how wealth is distributed in the U.S.

"We need to stop and think about who is dying from this disease and who will have trouble recovering," she said, adding that one of the most frustrating things to watch during the pandemic are the people "not willing to make the sacrifice" by wearing a mask or staying home.

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