Michelle Obama reflects on coping with low-grade depression: ‘Nobody rides life on a high’

Former first lady says highs and lows are a ‘part of life’

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Wednesday 12 May 2021 16:01
Michelle Obama discusses coping with low-grade depression with Stephen Colbert
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Michelle Obama has spoken candidly about the low-grade depression she has been experiencing over the last year.

The former first lady opened up about her methods of coping with her mental health during an appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, where she revealed that “this is a part of life”.

“Nobody rides life on a high,” she told Colbert. “And I think it’s important for young people to know that. You know, it’s like, no, you’re not going to feel great all the time and there are moments in all our lives, particularly in the middle of a pandemic and racial unrest, you’re gonna feel a kind of way about it so give yourself a break.”

The Becoming author then explained that, being 57, she knows from experience that life comes with highs and lows, and that she has come up with methods of coping that she knows work for her.

“It’s turning off the noise that is upsetting, you know, knowing that I can’t keep reading all the feeds that are fuelling my anxiety and taking a break from it,” she said, adding that the coping method was one she relied on even as first lady.

According to Ms Obama, another method of coping is surrounding herself with things that “make [her] feel good,” including family, friends, walks and exercise.

The mother-of-two then discussed with Colbert how she speaks with her and Barack’s daughters, Malia, 22, and Sasha, 19, about mental health, revealing that she reminds her children of life’s highs and lows.

“When I talk to my kids about that, I try to urge them to understand that the valleys are temporary and so are the peaks,” Ms Obama said. “And they have to be prepared to handle the highs and the lows.”

And while she said that she wants to help young people develop the tools to help deal with their mental health, she also acknowledged that it has taken her decades to do so herself.

“We have to be patient with ourselves, particularly in times that are hard,” Ms Obama added.

The former first lady first revealed she was suffering from low-grade depression in August 2020 during an episode of her podcast The Michelle Obama Podcast.

At the time, Ms Obama had explained that she was suffering from poor mental health as a result of the pandemic, the racial unrest and the Trump administration’s “hypocrisy”.

She said: “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 and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it day in and day out, is dispiriting.”

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