DENVER — The wife of a Broncos player recently opened up about a very personal struggle in her life to which many mothers can relate.
Cornerback Chris Harris and his wife Leah recently welcomed their third little girl into the world.
Life for the Harrises quickly got even busier. For Leah, when she’s not being a mom or wife, she’s running her own clothing line for women and kids, “Avie and Arie,.” She also helps run the Chris Harris Foundation.
The arrival of Leah’s third baby in four years meant the onset of an experience she knows well: postpartum depression.
“I went home and I broke down and I cried. Just the feeling of feeling so overwhelmed,” recalled Leah.
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder any woman can experience after giving birth. It involves feelings of stress, anxiety and loneliness that persist and don’t go away on their own. Leah went through postpartum depression each time after giving birth to her first two girls.
“You really feel alone like no one understands you and like you just feel like you’re almost drowning in tasks,” added Leah.
“I wanted to stay home and be sad. Everything was different. My body was different. I was squishy. I had a baby that needs you 24 hours a day. I feel like a lot of moms feel helpless. I feel like they don’t know where to start,” she said.
There are many others like Leah. The American Psychological Association says up to one in seven women suffer from some kind of mood disorder after giving birth.
Jill Oulman, a licensed professional counselor with the Luna Counseling Center in Denver says that number should be closer to one in five because she believes it is under-reported.
Oulman has never met Leah, but has heard her story. She also heard about how Leah opened up to her thousands of followers on Instagram about her struggle with postpartum depression.
“People are posting that [giving birth] is the best thing that’s ever happened. This is amazing. So there is the pressure and the stigma that this better be the best thing that ever happened you. Then who is going to go their girlfriend, their doctor or even seek out therapy to say, ‘Well, this isn’t the best thing that ever happened to me’? That takes a lot of bravery,” explained Oulman.
Leah felt a tremendous response from the post. Dozens of women reached out to her who were or are going through the same thing. Today she is feeling better. She is taking medication, has an established a routine with her family and works out five days a week.
Oulman says Leah is setting a positive example for other mothers.
“Healthy mom is healthy baby. If moms can come forward and say, ‘I am getting help for me, but really ultimately for me and for my children,’ that just creates healthiness,” added Oulman.
Oulman recommends a combination of therapy with medication but encourages women to do what works best for them.
Meanwhile, Leah hopes her story is a reminder that no one’s life is picture perfect and that if one is struggling he or she should seek help.
“You go through a lot emotionally physically. It’s a lot of changes and I really feel like we need to support each other and build each other up,” said Leah.
She continues to run her clothing line geared toward moms and their little girls. It’s a passion she enjoys. For more on her line, click here.v
The Chris Harris Foundation has a big event coming up. Coats for a Cause will be held at Fleming’s Steakhouse on Sept. 19. Money raised will go to buy winter items for the Denver’s Children Home. Click here for more information.