I taught Sasha Obama when she was in 6th grade both in her private school and privately. (I’m a voice teacher.) I met the whole family, even Grandma, during the performance where Sasha got to show off her singing skills in a very small, family-only gathering. Still, there were snipers on the roof and bomb sniffing dogs and helicopters circling above us. I was excruciatingly depressed at the time but no one knew. No one knew that I walked around every minute of every day wanting to die. No one knew that my internal dialogue was working so hard to convince me that I didn’t deserve this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Even though I know it was not my fault, still my deepest regret in life will be that I was not able to fully absorb all the joy inherent in a moment like that.
Depression does not care if you are experiencing the highlight of your career.
The thing I will always remember is Michelle sitting across from me at the dinner table and talking about how all she really wanted was to exercise with other people, to take a Zumba class. What she exposed to me in that moment was something that went far beyond the desire to break with a boring fitness routine. I saw it in her eyes and I will never forget how intimate it felt to know that even the First Lady of the United States – someone I thought had everything – felt lonely and craved connection just like me.
Even though depression put a dark fog between me and the pleasure of teaching Sasha and meeting her family, there were enough cracks that allowed me to see their enormous lights shining, to hear their laughter, and sense their boundless love for each other.
Farewell Obama Family. I wish mental illness had term limits.