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Why I am moving beyond “safe vulnerability” in this next chapter.

A look at what's next for author and mental health entrepreneur, Dayna Altman

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Sharing my struggles publicly is not something new but sharing beyond what I have coined “safe vulnerability” in my upcoming book Mix, Melt, Mend: Owning my Story and Finding my Freedom will be a first. 


“Safe vulnerability” for me, means sharing my battle with an eating disorder and the ramifications that it has left me continuously thinking about. Safe vulnerability for me means discussing my battle with depression and OCD thought patterns but not necessarily what that looks like daily or the repetitive thoughts that haunt me at night. While I recognize what I described above probably doesn’t seem like a “cop out” or “safe” to most, nor do I feel like it has been by any means, as it has taken so much courage and bravery to get to this point and it is something I’m very proud of, it’s definitely a narrative that feels safe. One that I have shared so many times it has begun to feel known in my community, one that I know is powerful but also accepted. 


I am so proud to know what I have shared so far has helped others and that’s the ultimate gift. I have received feedback that hearing my story has inspired some to seek treatment, some to start therapy and even some to come forward to share their own struggles and to me, that’s what it’s all about. Knowing my story is not just something for me, but something that has helped mobilize others to set on their own path not only has energized me but also something I consider an honor. 


I have always wanted to write a memoir but I didn’t think it would come this soon, I guess I can thank quarantine for that.  Even though I have felt (and still feel) ready, I can’t tell you how many times I have been met with “a memoir, aren’t you too young?” and yes I’m in my twenties, but it feels like a great time. Not only because I am nearing a new chapter…my thirties, wow that’s hard to imagine but also because I am in a place to transcend this safe vulnerability. 


I credit this “readiness” to a few things: all of the time I have spent in therapy, all of the speaking engagements I have had since publishing my mental health and resilience cookbook Bake it Till You Make it: Breaking Bread, Building Resilience and also a writing class I took last summer. Putting my experiences to paper or speaking them out loud, each time adding in a bit more detail has helped me feel like “oh wow, ok, I can add more. And if what I have shared already has helped the world, I wonder what could be next.” All of this clarity and confidence I have built has helped me feel like I’m ready to take the next step. 


So what does that mean? More details, like a lot more about my thoughts both past and present, a real look at my upbringing and the continuous battle with mental illness that I will live with for probably, ever…but in a way I am ok with that. Hey, I don’t think anyone would necessarily feel “good” about that proclamation but if it has helped me build the platform that I plant my feet confidently on, then that’s something I can get on board with. 


I am very grateful to my parents who have both agreed to let me share my story with no limits and all that it has entailed. I saw on Tik Tok of all places, a trauma metaphor that really stuck with me. The idea that family trauma is like enduring a car accident, everyone in the car experiences the event differently depending on where they are sitting and I appreciate my parents my willingness for me to share my experience from my vantage point even if that means including some of their mistakes. 


As scary as it feels to be unveiling this new side of my story in my new book, there is a piece that feels really exciting. I feel like my current track record of inspiration feels strong, so moving into this new territory brings with it so much possibility. 


I have recently been thinking about the idea of a “fairy godmother.” I think this is in part because my sister and I are re-watching Dance Moms, and Maddie Ziegler credits Sia as her “godmother.” I don’t know the full story of course, but like many people have seen, Sia really helped Maddie launch her career. I look at some of my inspirations and hope for a “fairy godmother” to help launch me into my new chapter, allowing me to share my story on an even bigger scale and for their mentorship. And, I have shown myself I have built a pretty strong community on my own. Believe me, potential fairy godmothers, I hope we connect!!!! but I also want to recognize I am proud of what I have built thus far with “safe vulnerability” and I am hopeful about what can come next. 


I think at this point, I don’t really fear this next step. I recognize with a bigger audience comes the inevitable trolls and that has scared me a lot, but I’m as ready as I can be because I know my purpose. I am ready to share in the name of owning my story, in the name of what it may help others do and what I am confident it can do for the world around me. 

Interested in learning more about this organization or adding your name to a pre-order list for Mix, Melt Mend: Owning my Story and Finding My Freedom.

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