• Nicky

Hello to H!LANDER (and finally putting my health first)

Updated: Jun 15, 2018

Tomorrow will mark a permanent change in my career trajectory.

After spending seven years in London, in June of last year I returned home to the familiar fold of the south Leicestershire market town where I grew up, ready for a fresh start and a new challenge.

At first that challenge came in the form of my first foray into agency life, at a full-service social media company – Punch Communications – who boast a whole host of big-name clients including Sony Mobile, John Lewis, LinkedIn, plus many more. For the past 12 months, I’ve been privileged to work with some fantastic clients from Barclays and Barclaycard on projects ranging from investor reports and conferences, to designing giant ducks for boat shows.

Now though, I’m about to embark on a venture of my own.

Those that have met me will know I have struggled with debilitating vertiginous migraine (essentially overwhelming dizziness, nausea and headaches) for over five years now.

Back in February 2013, I took a trip to the cinema in Richmond-upon-Thames to see a film that would change my life, possibly forever. That film was Tarantino’s Django Unchained, starring Jamie Foxx as a freed slave on a mission to rescue his wife from a brutal plantation owner played by Leonardo DiCaprio – or so I’m told.

Within ten minutes of the opening credits, I was effectively blind. Large, shape-shifting, colourful blobs took over the screen, not unlike the wormhole effects in Donnie Darko. Headaches weren’t a new phenomenon to me, quite the contrary, but this sensation was unlike anything I’d ever felt before and hoped in vain that I’d never feel again.

And so, five and a bit years have passed painfully by. Each month punctuated by appointments with GPs, neurologists, ENT specialists, physiotherapists, acupuncturists, audiologists, opticians, dieticians. All to no avail. An MRI scan showed an arachnoid cyst on my brain. “Nothing to worry about, it’s probably been there since birth,” the Specialist half-heartedly attempted to reassure me.

Living with the condition – and its supporting cast - is one thing. Working with it, however, can be tougher still.

I can wake up on any given day and be felled by excruciating pain in my temples. Some days I can barely stand for the fear of falling over as I’m consumed by a heady dizziness that I’d previously only experienced on boat journeys. On occasion, I do in fact fall over. Seven days before my wedding in December I did just that - plummeting down a whole flight of stairs at my home and injuring my back and coccyx in the process. I’m still undergoing treatment for the pain almost six months later.

It’s understandable then that experiencing such symptoms with little tangible relief has negatively impacted my mental health too, leading me to experience anxiety and bouts of depression as I struggle to maintain a semblance of a “normal” life.

All of this has now led me to a change of direction in the form of self-employment, allowing me to continue to do the work I love but to my own timetable; to accommodate for the physio sessions, the hospital appointments, the days I wake up with blurred vision or no vision at all. By utilising my “good hours” to better effect – whatever time they occur – and taking greater measures to look after myself, I am confident my new destination will be worth the troubled journey; that I can continue to deliver the highest quality of work without compromising my health.

Not everyone is suited by set working hours. Flexibility is key. As is the opportunity to put pen to paper (or hands to keyboard!) whenever and wherever inspiration strikes. I live to be creative; to generate ideas, develop strategies, to create new characters, to draw, to photograph… that passion needn’t be confined to 8.30 – 5.30, illness or no illness.

And so, H!LANDER is born.

Through H!LANDER, I will specialise in presentation design, principally PowerPoint, combining my love of branding, copywriting and design to create stunning pitch decks for big corporates and start-ups alike. The prospect of taking raw – often dry – source material and turning it into highly engaging, and informative content that converts is a particular draw for me. Being a History graduate, I can argue a case for anything (my friends and family can attest to this!), which combined with my natural flair for creative design makes for a fun new role in which I can flourish – something I didn’t believe could be possible outside of full-time employment at an established company.

In addition, H!LANDER will offer website design and 360° marketing support – including copywriting, strategic thinking and business development – all on a freelance basis.

Whilst it hasn’t been an easy decision to leave a role that I enjoy, I feel buoyed by the hugely positive response I’ve had from co-workers and clients alike – both old and new.

And so, my first blog post is a thank you to the companies and people who have supported me over the years – from my top-class managers at Amazon to the whole team at Punch. Your patience and understanding has made this new venture possible, and – for the first time in a long time - I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

P.S I'll also get to spend more time with this little fluff ball, because who wouldn't want that?!