When I first came across ‘Hands’, I was staring at a beautifully put together Vimeo of Nylo displaying her own hands as a symbol of life, there was routine and familiarity in the actions within the short visual, lit vibrantly with colour. It was reflective of the symbolism within the book. “Daily practice and daily routines, that’s what the book is for me” - the concept for the video fed directly as inspiration for the title of the book, Nylo’s very first to be published. The pieces are a timeline of Nylo’s thoughts over the past couple of years, giving a painfully honest insight into the mind of a young women just like me or you, struggling with mental health, love, loss, self worth, and all that life brings you as you grow.
As a child living in North London, Nylo found writing through therapy after her father’s death, she was told to write down her emotions to try and unravel the anger she so often felt. “I guess it was easier to talk about boys, so at first it was like ooo I think this guy is so cute haha, but I was very observant, so I wrote about the feelings and situations I would see but wouldn’t feel and then I started writing music because I did music for a bit in school, so I was writing songs, then I just thought fuck that and started writing a diary.” Perhaps there was something instinctively connective for Nylo in the form of a diary as she knew her mother kept one and her father was somewhat of a writer, which she gathered through all the cards her Mum had kept from him. Whatever it was, writing a diary became a part of Nylo’s life and a healthy way for her to unravel her thoughts. “It was just a hobby, like if I don’t write after a week I feel really congested and then once I get it all down it’s like woo, I can breathe, […] I wouldn’t even realise how I felt until I wrote it down and then it’s like ahh, okay, now I can articulate myself in such a different way by writing and if you don’t have anyone to talk to and don’t have any vices it’s another way of getting that out, like I had stopped writing music and I wasn’t painting so it worked”.
What inspired you to create ‘Hands’?
“I went from showing one person who knows me in a very intimate way, to having an exhibition. After the exhibition, I deliberated another show but I decided on a book, holding nothing back and to pour myself into that.”
How would you describe the book to someone about to read it?
“It’s a personal journey of lifting myself up, love - learning to love, be in love and loving myself. It’s very raw and real. It’s a process and I’m still learning.”
You speak of love almost as a saviour. What is it about that emotion that has us so obsessed do you think, as it is one of the most famous topics within art?
“I chose to throw myself into love, it was a dangerous decision but I’m so grateful because I learned to love and accept love. It’s a very sacred and special thing to experience.”
Hands is very personal. Was there anything you felt hesitant to include? How important was it for you to be transparent?
“Of course! I didn’t want to include a lot of my sadness because I go to a really dark place, it’s not easy for me to read some of those words back. There was a lot of stuff about my personal relationships that I didn’t want to include but I got reminded that if I do this I have to be completely honest because someone else may feel the same way. I can’t include my highs and not my lows. Even my highs were quite hard for me to include because I didn’t know how hard I loved till I wrote it. That’s when I was like shiiiit haha.”
I can only imagine how scary it must be to lay yourself bare the way that Nylo does in ‘Hands’, which is why the pieces are so pivotal - none of it was ever written in order to be read, they were just her way of getting things down, so to open a door into your true thoughts and feelings is an insight into humanity that we rarely get. We all colour our thoughts, even to people who know us best, so imagine opening up transparently to complete strangers. It’s a needed revolutionary way to discuss mental health to give others comfort and relatability. “It’s live and direct, this is my day to day, […] I have to put it out there for people to find comfort in that these are my extremes, it might not be yours but it might give you something to relate to. I think as a society we highlight our highs so much, but we also need to highlight our lows.”
The topics reflect a lot on women and mental health, and how men, creation of life, loss, and depression, effect us. I particularly felt this in ‘Monday 7th September 2015’. What do you want women to take from reading this?
“I don’t know what any woman could take from this or even if I want them to take anything from this. I just think if a woman finds herself in that situation, there’s so many conflicting feelings and they aren’t alone in feeling that way.”
What has helped your personal journey with mental health? What advice would you give in dealing with it?
“Personally, I was so hung up on trying to ‘figure out’ how I felt or the idea of happiness and chasing that. I just had to ride out how I was feeling. To know and understand that it’s not a forever feeling. I learnt that after so many trials and I’m still learning. Also understanding myself and any other components.”
There were pieces which I felt demonstrated how much we put our emotions on the back of how other people make us feel. Which can be unhealthy but is the reality of how a lot of us seek happiness. What is your definition of a healthy relationship, whether that be with yourself or others?
“I threw myself into love very hard, at a time where I was still learning who I was, but I saw something in him that I wanted in my future. I was starting to surround myself with people that I wanted to contribute to my life, so from that I guess a healthy relationship is one of self-exploration and acceptance. Surrounding yourself with energy that motivates, inspires, and adds to you as a person, is also hugely beneficial and inspiring.”
It seems that writing is a release for you, as you include so much of yourself in there. What else is in your self-love/growth routine in daily life?
“Maintaining a balance can be hard especially at a time like this, where I’m working and sometimes finishing late - life is picking up its rhythm. I try to stretch some evenings, check emails, write, listen to music, have a long bath, cook. Take care of myself in little ways.”
A lot of your writing includes imagery that relates a female’s emotions to nature, words like flowers, air, breath, ivy, crawling, flood ect. why do you think this is?
“I noticed when I started to write more about nature, I started looking after myself a little more. There’s something healing and so alive in nature, and I started to bounce off being happy and relating it to that.”
What is next?
“I have so many exciting things in the works however I won’t elaborate, I guess you’ll have to be there or bear witness for that journey. I’m really focusing on myself and all elements that contribute to me, at the moment. I owe it to myself at this point in my life.”