Michelle Obama Says Trump Admin Is Giving Her Depression And She's Not Wrong

by Christina Marfice
A conversation with Michelle Obama takes place during the 2019 ESSENCE Festival at the Mercedes-Benz...
Erika Goldring/Getty

Michelle Obama is getting candid about her mental health in quarantine, and same, girl

Remember when the White House was occupied by a couple of relatable, empathetic folks, who seemed to do their jobs with the goal of leaving the country better than they found it (or at least doing their best)? Those days are hard to even remember, now that we’re almost four years into Donald Trump’s racism, hypocrisy, and lies. But in a candid new interview about her mental health as of late, Michelle Obama just said what we’re pretty much all thinking — and made us long for the days when the administration showed anything even remotely resembling human emotion.

In an extremely candid new interview on her podcast, Obama spoke with her longtime friend, journalist Michele Norris, about her mental state right now, months into the coronavirus pandemic, quarantine, racial tensions, and the Trump administration’s constant pot-stirring.

Spotify Embed: Protests and the Pandemic with Michele Norris

“Spiritually, these are not fulfilling times,” she said, and we felt that in our souls.

Obama went on to describe how, even though she and her husband are no strangers to trying to live normals lives under strange circumstances, the first half of 2020 has been something else entirely.

“For Barack and I, we’ve lived outside of the norm of regular life for quite some time, and what we learned early on in the White House is that in order to stay sane and feel like the human that you once were, you have to have a schedule and a routine that’s pretty lockstep,” Obama explained. But now, “I’m going to bed a little bit later, and I’m waking up in the middle of the night ’cause I’m worrying about something or there’s a heaviness. I try to get a workout in, although there have been periods throughout this quarantine where I just have felt too low. I’ve gone through those emotional highs and lows that I think everybody feels, where you just don’t feel yourself. 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.”

We’ve never related so much to the First Lady, and that’s saying something. But the moment in the conversation that hit us like a ton of bricks was when she gave some of the blame for her depression not to uncontrollable forces like the pandemic, but to the Trump administration.

“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. Just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting,” Obama admitted. “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. It has led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life in a while.”

Obama does have some good advice for all of us, though: Go easy on yourself, and let yourself feel whatever feelings are happening in these dark, scary, uncertain times.

“I have had to kind of give myself that: those days, those moments. But for the most part, staying in a routine, getting a workout in, trying to get outside; schedule has been key, and having a regular dinner time,” she said. “I’m finding that in quarantine, we look forward to that.”