Former first lady Michelle Obama said she is suffering from "low-grade depression" due to the ongoing pandemic, quarantine, and racial strife. Although she did not directly mention President Donald Trump by name, she did say that some of his administration's actions have been "dispiriting." Obama made her comments in the second episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast, featuring an interview with journalist Michele Norris on "our relationship with ourselves."
Obama said 2020 has seen several events that have changed day-to-day life all at once, from "outrage and despair, to protests seeking racial justice, to this historic and life-altering pandemic." She knows "I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression," Obama 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."
While living in the White House, Obama learned how important it was to keep a schedule to stay sane. She and her husband, former President Barack Obama, have tried to keep that habit going even during the quarantine. But even this has not completely erased the "emotional highs and lows" where "you just don't feel like yourself." Current events have made it increasingly difficult not to feel low.
"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," the former first lady explained. "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."
Obama also recalled how she personally saw "signs" of the racial disparity in the U.S., especially while she lived in the White House. "There were signs," she said. "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?"
Norris and Obama also discussed how words have taken on different meanings during the coronavirus pandemic. Americans will now look at the word "essential" differently for the rest of their lives, Norris noted. "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," she said.
Obama also finds it "frustrating" that some people will still not wear masks. "There’s almost like there’s a limit to our sacrifice and it was about a month and then we just got tired of the virus," she said. "That’s been disheartening to see so many people who have grown tired of staying at home because the virus didn’t impact them."