Michelle Obama
**FILE** Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the 2018 United State of Women Summit in Los Angeles on May 5.

The world community embraced former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama as representative examples of the American Dream, as well as embodiments of Black uplift. While setting the gauge of what was possible, the Obamas radiantly shattered centuries-old lexicons defining blackness as a defect or subversion of the norm. It was vitally important, then, that Michelle Obama opened up about confronting “some form of low-grade depression” she began to experience recently under quarantine.

Brought on, in her estimation, by racial strife and the uncertainties of the nation, Obama’s transparency gives a face — a recognized and respected face — to the millions of others silently coping with similar issues. More than 1 in 3 Americans reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in a recent pulse survey by the U.S. Census Bureau. Additionally, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that more than 30 percent of adults in the United States were reporting symptoms consistent with anxiety or depression since the coronavirus pandemic began.

“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 dehumanized or hurt or killed, or falsely accused of something, it is exhausting,” Obama said. “It has led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life — in, in a while.”

Feelings of depression and anxiety, especially for those of us living in the District of Columbia — the seat of national power and therefore ground zero to protests, unclear legislation, and social uncertainty — are so common that many of us have found hours morph into days and then into weeks and months. Many of us are not sleeping properly and as a result, not eating, exercising, or coping well. Others are overeating, staying in bed for days at a time, and frightened into malaise.

Mental Health American reports that “processing and dealing with layers of individual trauma on top of new mass traumas from COVID-19 (uncertainty, isolation, grief from financial or human losses), police brutality and its fetishization in news media, and divisive political rhetoric adds compounding layers of complexity for individuals to responsibly manage.” Coupled with a distrust of the medical establishment and stigmas associated with psychological openness, many Black and African American people remain hesitant about seeking help or coping resources.

Thankfully, a ban on watching unnecessary amounts of news, and a daily push to help neighbors or connect with loved ones through social media, has kept me and many others from knotting up into a ball and wishing the world away. Also, helpful for me was the purchase — back in March when the quarantine took shape — of a gravity blanket. Designed to give deep pressure stimulation, gravity blankets mimic the gentle pressure applied with the hands and arms via hugs, an embrace, or massage therapy. They are great for anxiety and insomnia by increasing serotonin and melatonin.

Whether suiting up to hug relatives, being encouraged by our former first lady’s transparency, seeking professional help, or getting snug under a gravity blanket, The Informer wants you well. This health supplement offers great insight into maintaining and strengthening your mental and emotional health during crises.

Read, Learn, Grow.

Dr. Shantella Y. Sherman

Dr. Shantella Sherman is a historian and journalist who serves as the Informer's Special Editions Editor. Dr. Sherman is the author of In Search of Purity: Eugenics & Racial Uplift Among New Negroes...

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