So. I want to share my story with you.
Be warned, I haven't held back. Why haven't I held back? Because I hope that my story resonates with some part of you. You may skip bits in the middle, that's fine- I tend to ramble when I write. Also I find it incredibly hard to condense a story when I feel like all the parts are essential to the puzzle. I want you to know where I've come from and why I began Heidi Lou Design. Maybe you're a potential client or maybe you are going through something similar. If I can help just one person on whatever journey they may be on, then I'll be a happy woman.
Where to begin?
Well I guess this all kicked off in January 2016 when I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. At the time, I was working in public relations for the government. It hit me really hard. I may not have realised it at the time. But I really struggled to come to terms with the fact that I now had a lifelong chronic illness.
I had my dream job. I loved it so much. But suddenly my health became my focus and it was impacting all facets of my life. I was trying treatments and nothing was working. In around May, I was approved to try Remicade, a biologic drug delivered through an intravenous infusion. I hated getting these infusions so much. They are delivered in the oncology department at the hospital and it’s such a strange environment to enter when you look so well but you’re so sick.
Miraculously, the treatments began to work. My boyfriend proposed to me on my birthday and things were looking up.
In June that year, that seven-year relationship ended when I caught him cheating. Wow, did that come as a shock. It was such a strange experience though. I was driven by this rage inside me. It probably wasn’t that healthy, looking back now. But I wasn’t going to hide under the covers and let the world pass by. It was a massive catalyst to kickstart my life. I realised I'd been living in this safe bubble. Before then, I didn't often try new things. I didn't do things for myself or really live life to the full.
I was feeling really healthy. It came at really great timing. I travelled overseas, I started boxing, I made new friendships. I did things outside my comfort zone... and began to dream of what else I could get out of life.
I couldn't help but wonder
At the steps of Carrie Bradshaw's apartment in New York, figuring out my next steps.
I originally started studying graphic design to upskill myself at work. It would benefit my career in public relations greatly and make my daily job a lot easier.
I had looked into short courses at the library but came across Shillington College. It was a large expense that I couldn't really afford. But it did look amazing.
My family finally sold their cattle station after years on the market so I decided to head out for a last hoorah. I was reading Collective magazine's Start Up edition during my visit. I don't know if it was the theme of change, the magazine or just a combination of things that made my drive to study at Shillington really strong.
Getting back to my roots
Taking time out at my family's farm made me think about going back to study graphic design
My gorgeous mother decided to use some of her share of the sale to invest in my future and pay for me to study at Shillington. You know when timing just works out in such a serendipitous way? Course fees were due only a week later and the class would start a few weeks after that.
The course was just incredible. I loved every minute of it. I'd finish at night and call my Mum as I walked to my car from the train station and she would always be over the moon at how much I was enjoying the course.
During this time, I had really bad joint pain as a result of a change in medication for my Crohn's Disease. But studying graphic design gave me a purpose and something to focus on.
There were days when I couldn’t get out of bed, the pain was so bad. I think if I didn’t have the course to focus on, I don’t know what I would have been like.
At the beginning of 2018, I was constantly unwell. Being on strong immunosuppressants, I caught everything that was going around. After a few days of a dreadful headache, I became really unwell. One morning I passed out at home and woke up with my 30kg German Shepherd laying on top of me, licking my face. I managed to call an ambulance to take me to hospital. I rang my Mum who was two hours away in Toowoomba. I remember thinking 'I just want my Mum'.
I was in hospital for a week with suspected meningitis. They pumped my body full of antibiotics. Having my Mum and Dad stay with me while I recovered felt amazing. I made a few small remarks to Mum about moving home again and she chuckled thinking I was joking.
I attempted going back to work but my body just said nup. I had very little energy, I was fatigued and I couldn't think straight. My stomach was completely thrown out of whack from all the antibiotics. No matter what I ate, I ended up stuck on the toilet. This wasn't really conducive to the work environment. I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome on top of my Crohn's Disease. I was incredibly fortunate to receive income protection due to my incapacity to be in a workplace. While I had loved my job when I started, I don’t think I could really handle the 9 to 5 lifestyle and the stress really took a toll on me. My workplace had been amazing to me and let me work from home when I needed to. But I had this constant feeling of guilt. I didn’t know what to do.
I spent the next few months doing everything I could to let my body heal. I saw a psychologist, I meditated, did yoga, ate a strict low FODMAP diet and spent time doing the things I love.
People I caught up with said I looked so much happier and at peace. Even though on the inside, my guts were still a mess.
Over this time, I realised I really wanted to be near my family.
Expenses were tight. As much as I loved it, living on my own took a toll.
So I made the decision to move home to Highfields where I grew up.
I had a burning desire to live a life on my own terms. Freelance designing was the answer for me.
Having the freedom to work around my good days and bad days meant giving my body the optimal chance to operate at a healthy level. Driven by passion, doing something I love and having incredible focus, I saw my health slowly improve.
When you align with your purpose, everything else falls into place. It's amazing how the universe rewards you when you put your desires out there. I've been incredibly stoked with how well things are going and I can't wait to see where they go from here.
Thanks for reading.
Heidi Lou x