Former first lady Michelle Obama has admitted that she is "dealing with some form of low-grade depression" because of national and international events in 2020.
The 56-year-old revealed the Covid-19 pandemic, racial strife and the "hypocrisy" of the Trump administration caused her concern in episode two of The Michelle Obama Podcast.
The podcast was released on Spotify today, featuring a discussion with NPR's Michele Norris.
During the conversation, Obama spoke candidly about her "emotional highs and lows", specifically calling out how "exhausting" and "dispiriting" it is to watch how the US president responds — or doesn't respond at all — to "yet another story" of a black man or person being hurt or killed.
"Spiritually, these are not fulfilling times," she said in the new episode.
She said she is battling some form of depression "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.
"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 dehumanised, 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."
But she added her "spirit is lifted" when she feels healthy and surrounds herself with good people, like family and friends.
"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," she said.
"It's the small things, small rituals [that make a difference]," she said.
The former first lady she learned to stick to a routine in the White House, but lately it's been difficult, and it is affecting her sleep.
"I'm waking up in the middle of the night, 'cause I'm worrying about something or there's a heaviness," she said.
"I 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.'
"You have to recognise 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," she added.
Michelle and Michele also broached the subject of racism in America, with Obama saying: "We talk about white women clutching their purses at the sight of us, or feeling uncomfortable when we walk in the store, but I wonder, do you know how afraid we are?"
Obama's first guest on the premiere episode of her podcast on July 29 was her husband former President Barack Obama.
She said she invited Barack to be her first guest "because he's navigated these questions throughout the course of his life. In many ways, you can see his entire career as a constant conversation and evolution with his relationship to a larger and larger community".
During the episode, the couple discuss the coronavirus pandemic, with Michelle saying, "Like most Americans, we've been spending a lot of time together in quarantine.
"I've been having a great time. But we've had some interesting conversations… because these are some crazy times," she tells him.
The episode also explores the protest movement sparked by the death of George Floyd.
"Given everything that's going on right now, from the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the ongoing protests and conversations that are testing our patience — and our consciences… not to mention all the challenges we're experiencing due to the pandemic, I think that these days, a lot of people are questioning just where and how they can fit into a community," she says.
Future episodes will cover many other topics, from light to serious, including parenting, self-care, marriage, mentorship, family, and civil duty.