By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Southborough – Dayna Altman knows, firsthand, what it is like to struggle with mental health issues. A former Southborough resident, she has recently published a book, “Bake it Till You Make it: Breaking Bread, Building Resilience” – a compilation of stories from over 40 people who all wanted to get their message across through storytelling.
“I started writing this book about two years ago when I was in the midst of a difficult mental state,” Altman explained. “I was in recovery for an eating disorder, OCD and depression. Being an advocate in the mental health field, I see that people tend to shy away from conversation with mental health issues and there is still a stigma attached. We’re definitely taking a step in the right direction but it’s still not totally normalized.”
She felt that if she dove into the storytelling, she could help to open up a conversation where people would share their stories and help inspire one another. Some of the people included in this book were recruited by Altman, while others reached out to her once they learned about her project. Word of mouth spread pretty quickly and before she knew it, she had over 40 stories to include.
“I am very open about my struggles and I know that many people hearing my stories have been inspired themselves. One person who I recruited for this book was my physical therapist who helped me immensely when I broke my tailbone,” said Altman.
There is a chapter in the book dedicated to resilience through other struggles in other forms of trauma. In addition to the stories, there are resource pages that include information on what it would be like to call a hotline, what to do if you’re feeling unsafe, and a self-care guide. There are also places to write your own goals and thoughts. Altman purposefully included the recipe component from each contributor. Some of the stories might evoke a special childhood food like a favorite cupcake, for example. Others may have included a recipe that reminds them of a loved one who has passed.
“My goal for this book was to create conversation and inspire others around the dinner table. I want it to be a vehicle to open up discussion,” said Altman.
Altman works at the nonprofit organization Girls, Inc., as the public health coordinator for their Substance Abuse Program in Lynn.
She has a master’s degree in public health from Northeastern University where she also got a Bachelor of Science in human services with a minor in psychology. She keeps herself very busy and in the evenings she focuses on entrepreneurial projects.
“I have been through something painful and I continue to try to figure out a way to lighten the burden for others…,” said Altman.
Altman will be appearing at Tatnuck Bookseller, 18 Lyman St., Westborough, on Sunday, Oct. 6. For additional information, visit https://bakeitcookbook.wixsite.com/website. .