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Michelle Obama says George Floyd murder heightened her ‘low-grade depression’ during Covid lockdown

Michelle Obama has opened up on the ‘low-grade depression’ she suffered at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown last year and how isolating with her family had given back some ‘stolen moments’ with her two daughters.

In a wide-ranging interview with People, the former First Lady opened up on her pandemic year and the mental health struggles that came with it. 

The 57-year-old said she suffered from ‘low-grade depression’, which she said was heightened by George Floyd’s death in May last year.  

‘That was during a time when a lot of hard stuff was going on,’ she said. 

‘We had the continued killing of black men at the hands of police. Just seeing the video of George Floyd, experiencing that eight minutes. 

Michelle Obama opened up on the ‘low-grade depression’ she suffered at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown last year and how isolating with her family had given back some ‘stolen moments’ with her two daughters

‘That’s a lot to take on, not to mention being in the middle of a quarantine. 

‘Depression is understandable during these times. I needed to acknowledge what I was going through, because a lot of times we feel like we have to cover that part of ourselves up, that we always have to rise above and look as if we’re not paddling hard underneath the water.’

Obama first opened up about suffering depression in an episode of her Michelle Obama Spotify podcast late last year. 

She said at the time it was ‘exhausting’ and ‘dispiriting’ to watch how then-President Trump responded — or didn’t respond at all — to ‘yet another story’ of a black man or person being hurt or killed. 

Speaking about the past year, Obama said: ‘These have been challenging times. Many people have struggled: jobs lost, people going hungry. We’ve learned to count our blessings, the importance of health and family.’  

Obama said she and husband Barack have spent much of the year isolating with their daughters Malia, 22, and Sasha, 19, after their Harvard and University of Michigan college campuses were shut down early on in the pandemic. 

She said family the time between their homes in Washington, D.C. and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

‘This time has allowed us to get some stolen moments back with our girls,’ she said. 

Obama said she and husband Barack have spent much of the year isolating with their daughters Malia, 22, and Sasha, 19, after their Harvard and University of Michigan college campuses were shut down early on in the pandemic 

‘There’s something about witnessing your children become adults and developing a different relationship with them.

‘They didn’t come back into the house into the same set of rules, because I didn’t want them to miss out on independence. They came back as young women and our conversations are more peer-oriented than they are mother-to-daughter.’ 

Obama said she would often listen at the door while her daughters were streaming their classes online. 

‘With everybody homeschooling, what’s interesting for me is to listen in on some of their classes to hear how they interact with their professors. When your kids are off in college, you don’t get to see that part of them,’ she said.

Obama, who also revealed she was thinking about retiring from public life, said she took up knitting in lockdown and taught herself to be a better lap swimmer.  

‘I’ve been telling my daughters I’m moving towards retirement right now,’ she said, adding that she’s choosing her projects and chasing summer. 

Michelle, pictured with Barack at Joe Biden's inauguration, also revealed she was thinking about retiring from public life. Her new Netflix children's food show, Waffles + Mochi, premiered on Tuesday and the Obama Presidential Center is under construction in Chicago

Michelle, pictured with Barack at Joe Biden’s inauguration, also revealed she was thinking about retiring from public life. Her new Netflix children’s food show, Waffles + Mochi, premiered on Tuesday and the Obama Presidential Center is under construction in Chicago

Her new Netflix children’s food show, Waffles + Mochi, premiered on Tuesday and the Obama Presidential Center is under construction in Chicago.   

‘Barack and I never want to experience winter again,’ she said. 

‘We’re building the foundation for somebody else to continue the work so we can retire and be with each other, and Barack can golf too much, and I can tease him about golfing too much because he’s got nothing else to do.’ 

Obama also revealed in the interview that she has had the COVID-19 vaccine and said there was ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ amid the pandemic. 

‘I encourage everyone to get a vaccine as soon as they have an opportunity,’ she said. 

It is not clear when Mrs Obama received the COVID-19 vaccine, or if Barack has also received the shot.       


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