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Michelle Obama says she’s suffering from ‘low-grade depression’ amid the pandemic

Former First Lady Michelle Obama speaking at the fifth annual “Beating the Odds” Summit on July 23, 2019, at Howard University.

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post | Getty Images

Former first lady Michelle Obama said she has been “dealing with some form of low-grade depression” amid the coronavirus pandemic, but that trying to maintain a routine has helped her cope. 

Obama said that her struggles with mental health were “not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it day in, day out is dispiriting.” 

However, she said that “staying in a routine, getting a workout in, trying to get outside,” has helped.  

The former first lady was speaking to U.S. journalist Michele Norris on the second episode of her eponymously named podcast which was released Wednesday. Referring to the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in May, which sparked widespread protest, she said she had found it “exhausting” to continuously wake up to “another story of a black man, or a black person, somehow being dehumanized, or hurt, or killed, or falsely accused of something.” 

Obama added that this had “led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life in a while,” saying the worry caused her to struggle with sleeping, waking up in the middle of the night. 

At some points while staying home during the pandemic, Obama said she felt “too low” to workout but had allowed herself to “surrender” to those feelings and not be too hard on herself. 

“It is unusual and it’s a direct result of just being out of body, out of mind and spiritually, these are not … fulfilling times,” she said. 

She added that doing puzzles had become a popular pastime in their household and that her husband, former President Barack Obama, had been teaching their daughters to play the card game Spades. 

A spokesperson for the White House wasn’t immediately available when contacted by CNBC.

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