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Ethan Jones

Professor Granillo

English 101

03 December 2019

Modern Patriots

The modern patriot is one that acknowledges mental health problems. The tired old

practice of commanding people to “suck it up” is beginning to come to an end as more and more

Americans become more aware of mental health in our nation. Stress and anxiety have been

reported as rising in all generations, especially the younger generations which are at a record

high. Whether people want to acknowledge it or not, mental problems being ignored in America

is a growing issue. We see examples of this in studies and the growing number of mass shootings

and school shootings. A patriot is someone who acknowledges the mental health problems in our

country and seeks solutions. A solution that many people have found in dealing with their

anxiety and depression is music. While it is not a fix all solution, many people have found that

music can calm and relax them during times of stress.

One of the songs that I personally turn to in my times of tension is “I’m Not Okay (I

Promise” by My Chemical Romance. I’ve always enjoyed listening to this song, because I found

in therapeutic in the sense that it allowed me to acknowledge the emotions that I was feeling at

the time. I never considered the intended meaning of the song until I delved deeper into the lyrics

and found that it relates quite perfectly to this topic of mental health awareness in America. My

Chemical Romance is incredibly fond of writing songs with a narrative to them, and “I’m Not

Okay (I Promise)” is no exception.


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The story of My Chemical Romance’s song is about a girl with interpersonal problems,

such as her boyfriend sharing naked photos of her, asking for help from the narrator, her friend.

However, the narrator is suffering is also suffering from his own very real problems. He decides

to put his own internal problems aside in order to help his friend. The narrator eventually tries to

tell his friend about his own problems but she dismisses them and focuses on her own troubles.

The running theme throughout the song is that she really does not understand the worries and

issues of other people. She loves all these songs with deep meanings, claims that they speak to

her and that she can relate but really she doesn’t know what any of it means.The narrator finally

tries to get it through to her so she can understand his problems are very different from hers.

Hers issues are external, his issues are internal. The message of the song is that the narrator's

internal struggles aren’t less valid than external worries.

“I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” really illustrates the trend that has been prevalent in

America. In his article “Mental Health in the Americas: An Overview of the Treatment Gap”

Robert Kohn discusses a study that showed n​early one in two people in the U.S.​ will suffer from

depression, anxiety disorders or another mental health ailment at some point in their lives, and

about one in 17 Americans currently has a serious mental illness. These are fellow patriots, and

they are being neglected. Fortunately, in recent years state and federal governments and the

health system have taken steps to right that wrong.

The next song on my playlist is “Hurt” covered by Johnny Cash. This is yet another song

that addresses mental illness and helps one confront internal feelings as one listens to it. The

song wastes no time and dives into the deep end with the first line “​I hurt myself today/
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To see if I still feel​.” The song is discussing depression and the odd fact that this intense sadness

that accompanies it is surprisingly void. It is almost as if a kind of numb calmness takes over. He

feels that the only way to know if emotion even exists anymore is to hurt himself, whether it is

emotionally or physically; using the ache of a stinging wound to capture an image, a glimpse of

his old self again. Ultimately, it is wasted effort.

The third song in my playlist is “Jumper” by Third Eye Blind. “Jumper” is about a guy

who jumped off the Coronado Bridge and killed himself. The point of the song was if people

have more understanding for each other and gave each other more credit, then these instances

could be avoided. The lead singer, Stephan Jenkins references an instance from his past in the

line “And if you don’t want to see me again, I’d understand.” He discusses how sometimes it is

too difficult to see someone after being truly vulnerable and exposed. He had a friend who was

raped and she needed money for medical care. She was ashamed and couldn’t talk to her

parents about it. After he helped her she didn’t want to see him anymore. She gave a bit too

much of herself and he understood that. This is another example of someone seeing, truly

seeing, and understanding another.

The fourth song in my playlist of patriots is “Demons” by Imagine Dragons. This is by

far their strongest song, and, again, it is about acknowledging problems beneath the surface.

Unlike the previous songs in the playlist this song focuses on acknowledging one's own internal

struggles instead of others. In the line “​I wanna hide the truth, I wanna shelter you​” Imagine

Dragons address a harmful tendency that, unfortunately, many people have. Many people have

the habit of hiding their inner troubles to spare others. The truth of the matter is that friends and
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family often want to know about these problems and would try to help deal with them. In the

very next line “​But with the beast inside, there's nowhere we can hide​” the band is confirming

that these emotions can not be bottled up forever. When people do not seek the help they need

they will inevitably reach a bursting point. We have seen several instances of this in recent

memory with the rising numbers of mass shootings and school shootings. The band continues

with this theme of hiding one's self when they write “​So they dug your grave and the

masquerade/ Will come calling out at the mess you made​.”A ​masquerade​ is a social gathering

where individuals hide their face under extravagant masks meant to conceal their identity.

Under this facade, the “demons” inside us fester and grow; eventually leading to horrible

consequences for the individual and others. The chorus of the song is really a cry for help in the

lines “​When you feel my heat, look into my eyes/ It's where my demons hide, it's where my

demons hide​.” When people are close to each other, feeling their body heat, they can look into

each other's eyes and see whether or not a person is ok or if they are hurting. This is a brilliantly

written song that addresses mental health in a masterful way.

All of these songs address mental health issues. They do not hide them, they do not hide

from them, and they do not ignore them. As a nation America must not ignore it’s patriots that

are struggling internally. All age groups are reporting record numbers in terms of both stress

and depression. Young generations are sporting the highest percentages of mental illness in

history. There are many veterans struggling with PTSD and depression. Fortunately, after years

of dismissing mental health problems with these outdated phrases like “Suck it up” and “Walk

it off” America is finally starting to acknowledge and address mental health.


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Works Cited

Cash, Johnny “Hurt” ​American IV: The Man Comes Around​. By Writer Trent Reznor. Perf.

Johnny Cash. Rec. Date Month Year. Producer Kobalt Music Publishing. 2002

James, Maureen. “Mental Health America.” ​College & Research Libraries News​, vol. 79, no. 5,

May 2018, p. 269. ​EBSCOhost​, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx? direct=true &db=lx

h&AN=129463959&site=ehost-live.

Jenkins, Stephan. “Jumper” Third Eye Blind. By Stephan Jenkins. Perf. Third Eye Blind. Rec.

1996. Producer Stephan Jenkins, Eric Valentine. 1998.

Kohn, Robert, et al. “Mental Health in the Americas: An Overview of the Treatment Gap.” ​Pan

American Journal of Public Health​, vol. 42, Dec. 2018, pp. 1–10. ​EBSCOhost​,

doi:10.26633/rpsp.2018.165.

Miksanek, Tony. “No One Cares about Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental

Health in America.” ​Booklist​, vol. 113, no. 9/10, Jan. 2017, p. 24. ​EBSCOhost​,

search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lxh&AN=120651502&site=ehost-live.

Mother Mother. “So Down.” Dance and Cry. By Mother Mother. Perf. Mother Mother. Rec.

October 18. Producer Misha Rajaratnam. 2018

My Chemical Romance. “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. By My

Chemical Romance. Perf. My Chemical Romance. Rec. 2004. Producer Howard Benson.

2004
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Reynolds, Dan. “Demons.” By Adam Baachaoui, ​Daniel Platzman​, ​Dan Reynolds​, ​Wayne

Sermon​, ​Alexander Grant​,Josh Mosser. Perf. Imagine Dragons. Rec. 2011-2012.

Producer ​Alex da Kid​, 2012.