Just Like Us, Our Forever First Lady Has Been Experiencing 'Low-Grade Depression' Lately

Michelle Obama on stage as part of her “Becoming: An Intimate Conversation With Michelle Obama” tour on April 14, 2019, in London, England.
Michelle Obama on stage as part of her “Becoming: An Intimate Conversation With Michelle Obama” tour on April 14, 2019, in London, England.
Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe (Getty Images)

Michelle Obama just keeps giving us more reasons to love her—mostly because of her innate empathy (you should try it, it’s delicious) and her increasing transparency since leaving the White House and publishing her instantly bestselling 2018 memoir, Becoming. In her newly launched Michelle Obama Podcast, she’s continuing to give us highly relatable moments, most recently on Wednesday’s episode, when she admitted she too has been struggling with “those emotional highs and lows that I think everybody feels, where you just don’t feel yourself” during our lockdown and the most recent round of racial uprisings across the country.

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“I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression,” she shared with veteran journalist Michelle Norris (h/t Glamour), not mincing words as she continued. “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.”

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Whew, we stan a transparent queen—and know the feeling all too well, Big Sis in Our Heads. To say this ongoing year has been a lot to process is beyond an understatement (and as Black journalists, trust: We’ve been processing it all, so we see and feel you). With no foreseeable end in sight to the “new normal” imposed by COVID-19 and its disproportionate impact upon our communities—which are concurrently also disproportionately impacted by racialized and often state-sanctioned violence—it’s occasionally been difficult to find love in what feels like an utterly hopeless place.

“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, um, story of a Black man or a Black person somehow being dehumanized, or hurt, or killed, or falsely accused of something, it is exhausting,” said Mrs. Obama. “And it has led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life, in a while.”

With the full Obama clan once again reunited under the quarantine, the “mom in chief” says she’s finding solace in routine, as well as stepping away from the relentlessly negative news cycle to indulge in family activities like game nights and dinners shared together. And as always, the woman who goes high when they go low still has the audacity to hope (a nod to her equally optimistic husband), and the empathy to remind us that it’s okay to not be okay right now.

“The thing we have to remember is, we’ve been through tough times in this nation,” Mrs. Obama said. “We are in a unique moment in history. We are living through something that no one in our lifetimes has lived through.”

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You can listen to this week’s Michelle Obama podcast episode here.


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Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, an avid eyeshadow enthusiast and always her own muse. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.

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God I miss the Obamas