Courtney Handley


A touchy subject…

My Journal

After I got married in 2009, we had 2 years of newlywed bliss before we had our first child, a daughter Jordan Isabelle. I’ve always liked unisex names, but with traditional spelling. I’ve seen Jordyn, Jordin, Jordan but I could never do it. Anyways, back to it… Everyone I knew, knew that I would be a great mother, I’ve always been maternal. My first niece was born when I was 14 and I absolutely adored her. I worked in child care after high school and babysat my nieces/nephews and friends children often. So when I had my child, I thought I knew what to expect. I knew how to care for and love children.. But nothing prepared me for the emotional side of it.

I had a long and stressful labour. It total it was 33 1/2 hours and epidural with several top ups later, she finally came. Day two after birth, I struggled to connect with my daughter, I couldn’t sleep (which I guess is normal for newborns anyway), but I would wake up covered in sweat and clammy forehead. After 3 weeks of thinking this was normal after child birth (after all, your first child, you have no idea what to expect), I found out that with the intense baby blues I had been feeling, I also had an infection most likely caused from the placenta after birth and a strained rib which also didn’t help because I had a bad cough and especially whilst breastfeeding. I didn’t get better until Jordan was nearly 8 weeks old and since then everything settled down and I began to love my daughter immensely. 




September 2011

September 2011

Fast forward 4 years and just after the traumatic birth of my 3rd child, and other significant traumas in my life within that year, I was diagnosed with ANXIETY and DEPRESSION (the same feelings I had after I had Jordan). People don’t often talk about mental health as it seems to be a taboo topic but I believe it should be talked about. I spiralled out of control. I didn’t know what anxiety felt like, well, severe anxiety at least. I had completely lost my appetite, I lost 15kgs in 3 weeks. I could not sleep, and when I eventually did fall asleep, it was never longer than 45mins and then it took another 2 hours to fall back asleep.

September 2015

September 2015

Photo 23-10-2015, 3 08 02 PM (1).jpg

My body was constantly tense and my mind worked overtime and trying to calm itself down. I would overthink things like worrying about my then 5 year old getting bullied in high school, or how we would survive with 2 self employed incomes and provide for my family, or when I get old, how will I cope if my children don’t love each other. See what I mean?? These worries were always on my mind, even though, to a normal stable mind, this would be nothing to worry about. My father often said, “Just don’t think about it now, take it all as it comes!”. All I can say, is until you have experienced anxiety and depression, you have no idea how hard it is to stop thinking about it.


I was malnourished, sleep deprived, depressed, exhausted and was still a mother to 3 kids and running my first business My Sweet Event with my business partners. It was with the help from my family that I seeked help. I was able to talk through my thoughts and get a hold of my mental health. I still get days of severe anxiety and all the symptoms that come with it. It may seem losing 15kgs is great as most people overeat from anxiety, but until you have gone through what I have gone through, you will never know how difficult it can be.

This brings me to my WHY? Why am I telling you this? Why is this significant to my journey as a photographer? Why does this matter? I think it is important to bring awareness to mental health illnesses because they are real, they are crippling and it’s a silent fight I have with myself constantly and unwillingly and I’m not the only one! I guess for me is photography is my outlet. My older sister and role model encouraged me to take my skills further. This was October 2016. I was in the middle of my troubles with my anxiety and that while I was out and about capturing images of my children or loved ones, I was able to forget for a time what my mind was telling me to worry about.

In January I set myself a goal to shoot 5 weddings for 2017. In September I completed my 5th wedding purely from word of mouth only. I have captured numerous lifestyle sessions maternity and newborn shoots and I am becoming heavily booked for 2018. I am beyond blessed to have the experience I have had in my place already and to use that emotion and passion into my photography. That is my journey, that is my WHY and I will never take it for granted.

With love,



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  1. Sarah says:

    I’m so glad you’ve shared your experiences, it helps others going through similar things gain strength to face their own trials 🙂

    • Courtney Handley says:

      Thanks lovely. I feel like it helps me cope better during the moment…. So definitely want to bring more awareness to it to help others too xx