Behind the Business: Laura Hearn
What exactly do you do for work?
This is a tricky one...I have two hats! I work as a producer for the BBC in News and digital content. I love people and exploring what makes them 'tick.' Alongside this I am the CEO and founder of Jiggsy - a community that I created to connect people with an eating disorder and mental health issue.
When did you find the work you love?
This has kind of happened organically, in parallel to my journey of recovery from anorexia. Jiggsy was inspired by my own experiences, and has then led me to do the work I am doing now in raising awareness of mental health issues, and eating disorders. I have at the same time been fortunate enough to find a place within the BBC to share my story, and to help remove the stigma of mental health in the workplace.
How did you get to where you are now? What was your journey?
I actually wonder this myself! I was diagnosed with anorexia when I was 18, and spent the next decade in and out of treatment. My character is to be ambitious, a perfectionist and high-achiever, and so I ended up landing a job at the BBC straight from University. I did a Masters in Broadcast Journalism and somehow persuaded someone to let me make tea! I worked for free, until they then thought I was worth paying! Then in 2012, I had a bad relapse to the point where I didn't know if I could go on anymore. I was lost, incredibly lonely and disconnected from the world. I was barely holding down my job, and had to take some time out. I wasn't able to access adequate treatment on the NHS, so after a lot of fundraising and with my mum selling her house, I was able to go to the US for treatment, where I spent 7 months as an inpatient in an eating disorders clinic. It was the toughest thing I have ever done, but it saved my life. It was like nothing I had ever experienced in the UK, and healed my soul and mind as well as my body. I will forever be in debt to my mum and family who made such a huge sacrifice for me.
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself when you were starting out?
I am not sure I could, because I would probably do similar, but in the last two months I have reminded myself of one thing; you make your own luck. I had got 'stuck' and wasn't sure which way to go, but I made a decision to explore opportunities in one area, and it has paid off. I have also learnt that there are good people out there who are willing to help you, if you seek them out.
How do you stay feeling creative and inspired?
This can be hard, when you often do 11-12 hour days, but mostly it's people. People are what make the world go round, and it is their experiences which interest me. I'm inquisitive and like to learn from others. We all have a story - lots of them, and that is what keeps me inspired. I am incredibly grateful to have a life now - one that I never dreamed possible for me when I was ill. Recovery has given me so many incredible opportunities and relationships that are meaningful and rich.
What does a good work-life balance look like for you? And how do you maintain it?
I am not so good at this one! I have to be careful to stay on top of my recovery. When I get busy, I can put my recovery to the back of my mind, and I have learnt the hard way, that this doesn't work. It all catches up with me in the end, and there have been times when I have had to take a few days out because my anxiety has increased. These days I am much more aware of when I am feeling overwhelmed, and I have the tools to pick myself up quicker than before. For me, my favourite place is with the horses and dogs - anywhere in the country in my wellies and I am content. I need space and fresh air to survive. I am not a city person, so I make sure I connect with nature as often as I can.
How does being a woman affect your work?
Not sure it has. I don't think it has affected me positively or negatively.
How do you stay motivated when work and life get tough?
I speak to people who inspire me. I take some time out and think about what it is I really feel is at my core. What is it that lights up my soul? Sometimes life can just feel like too much of a slog. When I feel like this, I go back to basics and write a gratitude list. Sometimes I need to remind myself of all the things I do have, and not dwell on what I don't have. Every time I end up realising that I already have all I need. We actually need very little. Love is the biggest motivator, and I don't necessarily mean love for your partner, but a kind of energy that I feel loving towards myself and others. Jeez, that sound hippyish!! I don't always feel love for myself, but I always feel love for others. Self-love is a work in progress!
How do you ensure you practise self care?
Open spaces, time on my own, countryside, horses, baths, rubbish TV!
What does money mean to you?
It is nice to have. It makes life more comfortable and it can open up opportunities. I don't really believe anyone who says money doesn't matter to them. But what I do know is that with money - you never have enough. The more you have the more you want. Money can bring out the best and the worst in people. I don't believe money is at the core of your happiness. It can't buy you love, peace or your health - which at the end of the day is pretty much what we are all searching for.
What one piece of money advice would you give to your younger self?
Learn to save. Do not spend without thinking of the consequences. Keep on top of your finances.
What’s next for you?
Who knows! I hope 2019 will be a good year for me at the BBC and also with Jiggsy. I want to grow our community, share more people's stories and develop some ideas I have within the BBC.