Serena’s story is an amazing one! I was really able to relate to her story because we both talked about how writing music, and listening it can be such a therapeutic and healthy way to rid our anxieties and depression. Serena’s story is for anyone fighting the day to day battles that life throws at us. Whether it be trying to gain more confidence within yourself, or just trying to overcome your mind. Serena has a rich and inspiring testimony.
Serena Kelly Interview.
Leland: So tell me a little bit about your background, where did you grow up? Were both of your parents in the picture?
Serena: I grew up with my brother and sister in southern Indiana, my parents divorced when I was 8 weeks old so pretty much all I’ve ever known growing up was going house to house. Both of them are remarried now and I have a half-sister and some step siblings so altogether I have 5 sisters and two brothers. I grew up very family oriented, and I had a pretty big family.
Leland: What was your childhood like? Were you relatively happy?
Serena: My Issues kind of started when I was 9 years old. It started out as body issues for me and accepting my own image and it kind of turned into more serious stuff from there. It all just kind of progressed throughout the years.
Leland: What do you think triggered that insecurity you had about your body image? Where did it originate?
Serena: It was mostly just all in my head like it always is you know? I would compare myself constantly to my sister, there was an instance where my family would look at her and call her skinny, and then they wouldn’t say anything to me which made me feel like I was overweight. My thought process was in since they didn’t call me skinny I was fat. I pretty much had to carry that burden for years, and it was painful. Sometimes parents say things that they don’t think will affect you and they also might think that you won’t hear it, but you do and you definitely take it to heart.
Leland: What escalated you going downhill?
Serena: For me, there wasn’t really one particular thing that made me go downhill, but I do remember never wanting to do anything, I was always tired even though I didn’t sleep very well. I’d wake up in the middle of the night most nights, I didn’t like going to school, I mean overall I just didn’t want to do anything at all. Finally, in seventh grade, I put a name to that as depression. It was just really hard to hate waking up every morning especially when you’re that young. I also hated feeling like I couldn’t talk to anyone about it because where I grew up everybody was super conservative. I just felt like nobody understood me whenever I said something. Eventually, my best friend in high school had told me that she was going to a therapist, I thought “Oh there is someone out there, someone who cares.” That kind of got me thinking about getting better, but I didn’t tell my parents or anyone really until my sophomore year of high school.
Leland: When did you realize that you hit rock bottom with your depression and dealing with your insecurities? Was there a certain day?
Serena: I want to say the day that I told my parents was the worst day. I was having two-hour panic attacks, and I just was thinking about hurting myself and having suicidal thoughts. Luckily for me, I had a dream big enough, and it really kept me going because I thought that one day I’d get to do it so I held out. I definitely feel like if I never had that dream then I wouldn’t be here right now.
Leland: What was it like that day that you told your parents about everything? How did the conversation go?
Serena: I actually went for a long walk, and I was calling my friends saying things like “I can’t breathe, and I don’t know what to do. Eventually, I called my sister who was in college at the time, and I remember she talked me through everything and calmed me down. Eventually, I knew that I needed to tell my mom, so I went into the room where my parents were, and I remember that they were arguing so I was thinking “This is the worse time to tell them.” So I ended up going to my room and crying, but eventually, I came back out and I told my mom that I was really depressed and the one thing that really stood out in what she said back to me was “We will fix it.” She then eventually called my dad, and then he called me and basically said: “you’re not depressed.” I think he did that due to his religious and conservative based views.
Leland: What happened after you told your parents about your depression?
Serena: My mom is a nurse at the health department in my city, so she took me in to talk to the boss about what my best options for therapy were. I ended up getting to talk to a girl who would become my therapist for the next 3-4 years, and right before college started she had to quit her job, and that was extremely hard for me.
Leland: Was it scary at that time going to therapy? What did it feel like to be so vulnerable?
Serena: For me, I finally had someone that I could talk to, and they could keep all of that information confidential. I always wanted to go to her office because I’ve never really had that person in my life before that I could just be so open about, and tell her what was going on inside of my head. It was just an awesome thing for me.
Leland: How did you start to take back your life? How did you regain the strength to move on?
Serena: In high school, I didn’t sing for the longest time because people told me when I was younger that I couldn’t sing, and they would tell me things like “you’re not good” or ” you suck.” Anyways with the result of that, I stopped singing for years. I eventually picked back up again when I was about 14 years old, and I started writing songs, and basically just tried to write songs that helped other people as much as it has helped me. Music has helped me out so much and has been a really therapeutic thing for me. I recently just signed up for America’s Got Talent, just trying to push myself further, and take everything step by step.
Leland: When did you realize that you were successful with overcoming these insecurities, and depression?
Serena: I’m not sure if anyone is ever really not depressed, or overcomes it because there are still days and weeks and months that suck, but I definitely think that when you wake up and you actually want to see the sunlight in your room that’s a huge step. It’s just a huge blessing overall, and it’s a big goal to have when trying to overcome your depression. If you keep on pushing forward you will eventually get what has been in store for you, and you will get what you deserve.
Leland: If you could go back in time to the moment where you were taking that walk before telling your parents about your depression knowing all that you know now, what would you do or what would say?
Serena: I would just tell her to not give up because, in reality, I knew that she would fail, but she will learn from those failures. I would just tell her that you learn from your faults and they may suck, but you get back up and keep going at it till you reach your goal. You’re better than you have ever been, so get back up.
Leland: What is your new excuse for life, and why is life worth living?
Serena: If I could write a song, or write a lyric that makes me happy and makes somebody else happy and that travels with them in their heart then I’d feel like I am living the life that I am meant to live.
Leland: What is Serena Kelly’s purpose here on earth?
Serena: I make music for the little girls, and boys, the young and old, and really anyone that just is trying to make their way through this world. A lot of times people just need help, and if I can be a voice in their life that helps them, then that would make me content.
Serena was absolutely awesome to talk to, and her story really made my day. I love how she is able to use music to motivate herself and to motivate others. I am so stoked for her career, and I am excited to see where she will go as an artist, student, and person!
“I’ve been here before. I will survive another month under gray skies.” – Jake Luhrs