My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way recently took part in Sound Mind Live — a charity livestream for mental health awareness in the music industry.
The online event enlisted the help of musicians, music fans and organizations “in solidarity to promote community support around mental health issues and raise awareness for critical mental health resources during this time of need”.
Sound Mind Live saw Gerard Way sit down with Julien Baker and DeathByRomy for a candid conversation on “mental health, isolation and the healing power of creativity and connection” with Dr. Mike Friedman.
During the discussion, Gerard Way opened up on his personal experience with both talk therapy and art therapy, musing that he is “a big believer” in the former.
“I’ve been in talk therapy for probably – at this point, it’s probably eight years,” Way explains. “All through my life, probably about when I got into my twenties, that’s when I started seeing a therapist because I had hit a point where I realized, ‘alright something’s not right, you know?’ This depression, this not getting out of bed, this not participating in life. There’s gotta be kind of something to this.”
He continued, “I started therapy way back then and the band kind of took off and got super busy. So there were lots of years of no therapy, probably when I needed them the most during this kind of a whirlwind.
“It wasn’t until towards the end of the band that I just needed it, I needed therapy. I had so much to process, so much to work through and so much to discover. I had so much to take ownership of, there were just so many things I had to do so I’ve been working very hard at therapy.”
Way went on to reveal that he found it difficult to grapple with fame, and that the was only able to process the achievements of My Chemical Romance retrospectively.
“I found fame to be extremely traumatic,” he says. “I found the entire experience of being in My Chemical Romance and it kind of exploding into this thing of bigness in a way that it was never intended, I needed the last seven or eight years to process that experience. It did everything from me not wanting to be around people to making me not want to be in the outside world very much. It ended up with me just isolating.”
Way went on to muse on the dangerous, destructive trappings artists can find themselves in when using art as a therapeutic outlet.
“In terms of creativity, I feel like I do it when I need it,” Way explained.. “Art started as therapy for me: especially the band, for me, was art therapy.
“What happens is, you hit a point early on where you start to realise that by going to that dark place you end up with some of your most powerful material,” he added.
“But I think one of the dangerous things for artists is getting caught in this trap of needing to be upset, miserable and depressed in order to create art. It took me a really long time to both realise that I didn’t need all of that to create art and that I would enjoy the things that I made that more when I was stable.”
You can stream the entire panel below.