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Michelle Obama reveals what gets her through depression, how relationship with daughters has changed

The former first lady is on the cover of the latest issue of People
Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama got candid with People magazine about depression and having her daughters at home during the pandemic. Jim Bennett / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

After revealing she was suffering from "low-grade depression" back in August, Michelle Obama is opening up about the state of her mental health and sharing intimate details of her family's time in quarantine together.

The former first lady covers this week's issue of People (available on newsstands March 12) and explains how the current events of 2020 challenged her mental health. The interview comes a few months after the 57-year-old took to her Spotify podcast, "The Michelle Obama Podcast," and revealed that she had recently found herself waking up in the middle of the night worrying.

“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,” she told the magazine.

Between the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, Obama had a lot on her mind in 2020. She now recognizes that she needed to allow herself the space to process it all.

"This is what mental health is. You have highs and lows," she said. "What I have said to my daughters is that one of the things that is getting me through is that I'm old enough to know that things will get better."

Throughout the pandemic, the Obamas have spent plenty of time with their daughters Malia, 22, and Sasha, 19, and have quarantined together in their homes in Washington, D.C., and Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Both Malia, a senior at Harvard University, and Sasha, a sophomore at the University of Michigan, attended classes online throughout the pandemic, and it was interesting dynamic for Obama as a mother.

"Our girls were supposed to have emptied out of my nest," she said. "I was sort of celebrating that they were out building their lives and allowing me the emotional space to let them go. Well, they're back!"

Still, the Obamas made the most of their time together.

"This time has allowed us to get some stolen moments back with our girls," she said. "Those recaptured moments have meant the world to us and I think they've made our relationships with our children even stronger."

Obama's relationship with her daughters has evolved as they get older, and she's relishing the opportunity to watch them become young women.

"There's something about witnessing your children become adults and developing a different relationship with them," she said. "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."