Hi, I’m Credo.
I’m an artist based in Liverpool and I use my creativity to break down mental health taboos.
Like many of us, I’ve struggled with negative thoughts and feelings, but felt afraid to talk about them. There are countless reasons why, but I feel a huge reason is that we aren’t taught how to talk about them.
Many of us live with mental illnesses too, but we can’t talk about it as a normality. So I started the Hi I’m Credo project. The main aim of my work is to provoke difficult conversations, inspired by my own experiences.
The most personal of my works is an 8m x 1.5m banner I had professionally printed. It says “Hi I’m Credo and I don’t have depression I’m just an attention seeking liar”.
I wrote this because it’s something someone in my family said to me when I first started battling with my mental health. I was a lot younger, and this initial reaction to my depression still haunts me now. Being told I wasn’t in fact depressed, that I was just an attention seeking liar – it was so confusing to me.
Especially because it came from someone I loved and respected. For years, I suffered in silence and repressed so many other traumas because I never felt like what I was going through was ‘bad enough’. I was just an attention seeking liar, right?
I can’t even begin to explain how unhealthy this process has been. I’ve bottled up dark things for so long now because of what was said to me years ago.
After years of belittling myself and holding everything in, I hit breaking point a few months ago. It was scary.
Only now can I see the complete picture of me deteriation.
A few years ago I was confident, happy and fairly successful. I wasn’t always tip top, but my down days were manageable.
Gradually, after a few years of set backs and rejection, I became down and didn’t see the point in carrying on.
I began 2019 thinking I couldn’t achieve anything, so why should I keep trying? If I’d felt I was able to talk more openly about my problems, maybe it wouldn’t have gotten so bad.
At 22-years-old I felt pathetic and ashamed that I was unable to do basic things, like getting out of bed or keeping my flat tidy. I often turned to drinking myself silly and self harm.
It all fed into a depressive cycle: feeling depressed, then hopeless, then angry with myself.
The only thing that could break this cycle was art.
I base what I create on my personal experience, in the hope it’s relatable to others.
Turning my feelings into art has allowed me to break it all down and understand ‘why?‘.
I deliberately write in a sarcastic, punchy tone because it humours the work. I want to be noticed, hence the huge banner, the posters, zines and stickers.
I want to mimic the process of a professional campaign, so people take what I’m writing seriously.
I purposefully compare contrasting statements. Both seem believable at first, but once written out side by side it’s easier to see which is the real truth.
Once they’re spoken, they can become funny and relateable too. Then suddenly these difficult topics are easier to cope with.
I like to layer what I’ve written over photos I’ve shot on film . The images are always of my room when I’m in a depressive state.
Shooting with film is perfect for capturing these time periods. It usually takes a week or two to finish a roll and get it developed. By that time I always feel a disconnect from myself and the images, which makes it easier to use them openly.
The build up of empty dishes, random bits of food, all the alcohol bottles, cigs stubbed out in a mug. It’s part of who I am sometimes.
Surprisingly, people don’t tend to comment on the photos, perhaps because they don’t notice them. But they serve the important purpose of proof. They’re a visual representation of how my depression affects me.
The idea of an introduction format came from a meme between my friends and I. Whenever I’d introduce myself I’d always say: “Hi I’m Chrisafenia and I’m Greek”, just to get it out the way as quickly as possible. My name is unusual.
‘Hi I’m Credo’ has never changed. I’ve had the nickname ‘Credo’ for a few years now. It was given to me by my friend Anisha.
‘Chrisafenia’ soon became short for ‘Credo’ as I joked around at parties introducing myself to people I barely knew.
And that’s how ‘Hi I’m Credo’ was born. The Oxford Dictionary definition of Credo is: “A statement of the beliefs or aims which guide someones actions.”
‘Credo’ is Latin for ‘I believe’. In a way, I’m introducing myself as ‘Hi I’m I believe’. This is powerful to me. It makes my work seem so much more meaningful.
I’ve discovered my work is like marmite after seeing the reactions from two exhibitions. Some people love it and some people find it annoying.
Honestly, this is perfect for me. Either it just provokes a reaction, however irritable, or it starts conversations.
I find it interesting how some people laugh straight away, but others are instantly shocked by the ‘facts’.
This is just the beginning for the ‘Hi I’m Credo’ project, but I’m already so happy with its success so far. I’ve had invaluable conversations with friends, family and strangers about my mental health and theirs, which was the whole point of starting this project.
It’s so important to open up about your mental health, but first you have to be open to it. Let people in your life know you’re available to them, whilst seeking out the help and support you need too.
Create outlets for yourself. A few months ago I didn’t see the point in my life. But provoked by my own art, I reached out. Now I have a huge network of support. I’m so optimistic for my future and feel the best I’ve felt for years.
Hi I’m Credo.