Former First Lady Michelle Obama announced on Wednesday that she’s been unable to get a good night’s sleep throughout both the COVID pandemic and the continuing “racial strife,” due to suffering from “low-grade depression.”
Any guesses whose fault it is?
You got it. “Shockingly,” Donald Trump is to blame for Michelle’s depression, she says, because of his “hypocrisy” and that of his administration.
On the latest episode of “The Michelle Obama Podcast” (of course that’s what she named it), the former First Lady said it’s pretty tough, day in and day out, just dealing with Trump’s administration.
On Tuesday, she pushed the Wednesday podcast on Twitter. Her guest was Washington Post opinion columnist Michele Norris.
“We talked about how we’re doing in this strange exhausting time—as well as our responsibilities as individuals and members of our community. Tune in tomorrow on The #MichelleObamaPodcast!”
Can't wait for you to hear my conversation with my friend and confidante @michele_norris. We talked about how we’re doing in this strange, exhausting time––as well as our responsibilities as individuals and members of our community. Tune in tomorrow on The #MichelleObamaPodcast! pic.twitter.com/lX1usKhwbC
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) August 4, 2020
On Wednesday morning, she teased the podcast this way.
We’ve all been dealing with a lot of change in our lives and our communities. And I couldn’t think of anyone better to talk to about this moment then my friend, @michele_norris.
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) August 5, 2020
In the episode, the former First Lady discusses mental illness with Norris — framed around the COVID pandemic and the ongoing protests (riots) over “racial injustice.” She blames her depression, in part, on Trump and the administration’s response to both — and she doesn’t think she’s unusual in doing so.
“I don’t think I’m unusual, in that. But 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.
And it has led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life, in a while.”
So how bad is it? Obama said she even has trouble sleeping.
“I’m waking up in the middle of the night, ’cause I’m worrying about something or there’s a heaviness. try to make sure I get a workout in, although there have been periods throughout this quarantine, where I just have felt too low.
You know, I’ve gone through those emotional highs and lows that I think everybody feels, where you just don’t feel yourself, and sometimes 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.'”
She said she has highs and lows, which she tries to manage by doing “the things that bring you joy.”
“So for me, my spirit is lifted when I am feeling healthy, when I am surrounded by good people, you know, so I reach out. I reach out to my family, and to my friends, even in this time of quarantine.
You know, I fought to continue to find a way to stay connected to the people in my life who bring me joy, and my girlfriends, my husband, my kids; it’s the small things […] because you have to recognize that you’re in a place, a bad place, in order to get out of it.
So you kinda have to sit in it for a minute, to know, oh, oh, I’m feeling off. So now I gotta, I gotta feed myself with something better.”
To be sure, mental health is a serious matter, and as such should not be taken lightly, much less politicized.
Having said that, Michelle Obama in May of 2008 said, “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback,” for which she was roundly criticized in some (patriotic) quarters.
The notion that her “pride” has now given way to depression, simply because big, bad, Donald Trump is in the White House most likely doesn’t lend itself to sympathy in those same quarters.