Country star Lauren Alaina said she's known for being "the girl on stage in the shiny dress … the girl with the smile," but during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said she struggled with depression and used music to help get through it.
"It has been such a traumatic time. I can't think of a word that better represents the last 18 months than traumatic," Alaina said. "None of us were prepared to live in this pandemic."
In an interview with ABC News for the upcoming special, "Backstage Pass: Countdown to the CMA Awards," airing on Nov. 8 at 10 p.m. ET, the 27-year-old singer-songwriter talked about feeling upset and overwhelmed during the nationwide shutdown.
She threw herself into writing. Alaina said she built a recording studio in her Nashville home, where she had writing and recording sessions over Zoom with other songwriters and musicians to complete her third album, "Sitting Pretty on Top of the World," which came out in September.
"It's the most emotional record I've ever made," Alaina said. "It's a record about resilience and loving yourself and overcoming and hope for the future and it's about healing, and I think the world really needs healing."
The album's title track is a song called "On Top of the World," which includes the hook, "Hitting rock bottom, sitting pretty on top of the world." Alania said it's about her dealing with depression and how "outwardly, you would never know that."
"I'm always the most outgoing person in the room," Alaina said. "I have this huge personality. And I also have really big emotions. All of them are really big. So the happy ones are really happy and the really sad ones are sometimes really sad."
One of the hardest parts of the pandemic, she said, was having her shows canceled because it meant not being able to pay her crew and band.
"I am on the cusp of something really great, but I am not at the level where people are on salary," Alaina said. "The hardest part for me was knowing that these families count on me and I couldn't do anything about it."
The "Getting Over Him" singer's first concert since the beginning of the pandemic was in Walker, Minnesota, in June. Walking out on stage for that show, she said, was emotional.
"I cried the entire first song. I got like four words out," Alaina said. "It was overwhelming because [performing] is a huge part of who I am ... and then suddenly it went away, and there was no end in sight, nobody knew when we were going to get to the other side of it."
In addition to being back on tour and promoting her new album, Alaina will give fans a deeper glimpse into her personal life in her upcoming book, "Getting Good at Being You," due out Nov. 23. She also adopted a puppy last year.
Alaina said she hopes her projects and her writing will be a source of "healing" and "positivity" for others.
"Anytime we get to do something, it is a celebration," she said. "I think we all got a huge wake up call. We were put in time out, and hopefully we can come back stronger."