On June 8th, 2004, My Chemical Romance released their second full album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” was one of the songs released on this album. The album came out just before the three-year anniversary of 9/11. This is important because the lead singer for this band, Gerard Way, started this band after he witnessed 9/11. Leading up to 9/11, Gerard Way was focusing on his career in graphic novels instead of music. Gerard Way is the creator of the well-known graphic novel and now Netflix show The Umbrella Academy. However, after 9/11, he decided to go back to focusing on his passion for music. Gerard Way called up his three friends and his brother to start what is now known as My Chemical Romance. After witnessing 9/11, Gerard Way suffered from many mental illnesses such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Check out this article to see how 9/11 affected Gerard Way: https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/gerard-way-911-my-chemical-romance.html/ Gerard Way says in this article that music really helped him escape from his mental illnesses and helped him heal over time. However, Gerard still greatly struggled during this time in his life. Gerard really struggled not only with alcohol addiction, but also an addiction to cocaine. While he toured, he was a complete mess and so were the performances (https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/qa-gerard-way-95347/). So at the time of the release of this song, we can assume that Gerard and the band were all suffering as a consequence of Gerard’s behaviors. 

Since Gerard was able to help heal himself with his music. We can then also assume that he was able to help others heal with his music. As a huge fan of My Chemical Romance and Gerard Way, I can say their music has definitely helped me heal, especially this song. Even though it is heavy with guitars and drums, it can still touch you and help you release your anger in a more safe way. In an interview with Gerard Way, he said this song became an anthem for people who listened to it (https://www.songfacts.com/facts/my-chemical-romance/im-not-okay-i-promise). I definitely agree with that and also feel that this song helped me be ok with not being ok. I think this song has a similar effect on all who listen. Even though it isn’t mushy or soft, it can still help heal those who are not ok.

The writers accredited for this song are everyone in the band so that means Gerad Way, Mikey Way, Ray Toro, Frank Iero, and Matt Pelissier. So I really think this song is highlighting how everyone in one way or another isn’t ok. For example, Gerard Way at this time was struggling with mental health issues and addictions to alcohol and cocaine. This song I think also highlights how you can’t tell if someone is suffering or not and that is why you should listen to them when they are asking for help. We can see this throughout some of the lyrics: “You said you read me like a book, but the pages all are torn and frayed”. Also “What will it take to show you that it’s not the life it seems? (I’m not okay) I’ve told you time and time again, you sing the words but don’t know what it means to be a joke and look, another line without a hook”. I think these lyrics are showing the struggle of suffering and not being ok. Showing people that they can’t understand everyone’s struggle. Overall, I think this song is an anthem for the misfits and outcasts and helps show them that they aren’t alone in their struggles.

Madison Mancino