I recently published a cookbook and I am admittedly, a terrible cook. Most nights I microwave a frozen Cauliflower Bowl from “Trader Joe’s” or pick up a Thai Chicken Wrap from the local restaurant 0.4 miles away from my apartment. So, thank goodness this cookbook goes beyond the goal of the typical #foodporn Instagram end product and rather uniquely combines baking recipes with storytelling. Bake it Till You Make it: Breaking Bread, Building Resilience, is the first of its kind mental health and resilience cookbook that tells the stories of over forty people who share their strength, perspective, inspiration, battle (with either mental illness or another obstacle) and a meaningful recipe. Additionally, resource pages, a self-care guide and space for reflection are found within its 262 pages. The contributors range in age, background, religion, gender identity, diagnosis and experience, all to connect you with people who just get it. Who see you and who have been there, inspired by the fact that, I have been there.

It has become clear to me over the past six years, that turning pain into passion is not only a lifestyle but it is my lifeline. There is something deep within me that knows when I am facing a bout of unrelenting depression or an OCD flare up, it will pass and it will not be forgotten, rather it will become art–hopefully art that helps someone. Up until this point, I had been engaging in this cycle in a silo, I would go through something difficult and then I would get an iced coffee, open my laptop and use it as motivation to ensure that the person who would be next to experience it, would not be alone. My projects have span in size and impact but always with the same intent: to share, to learn, to grow, to be authentic in the face of inspiring change.

However, authenticity used to be very lonely for me and it still can be. As my therapist Dena says, I was “vulnerable before it was trendy” and for no other reason than it organically inspired me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being transparent in hopes to help others as well as fight the stigma that surrounds mental health but the work can be isolating. And as much as I preach the importance of asking for help, it is hard.

But the book has brought me great company, sitting with the stories in the cookbook and realizing I am not alone. Whether the person shares their wisdom, support or their story, creating this book and learning about what vulnerability means to others has reignited a passion and love in me, and I want everyone to experience this when they open the book.

So take solace in the fact that you are not alone, that representation of how you are feeling is at your fingertips and that being human connects our imperfections, vulnerabilities and experiences in a way we could never imagine. In essence, you are human, welcome to the club!

    Excerpt from Bake it Till You Make it: Breaking Bread, Building Resilience

And we are all in that club, so I have learned to embrace it. I have done this in part by working to combine these stories with recipes in an effort to make the conversation about mental illness, trauma, loss, grief, whatever you are going through …more palatable and more common. Not easier or relaxed, but more approachable and normal. Can you imagine a world where you can ask someone how they are doing and get a raw and vulnerable answer?!

Awesome, me too! And I truly believe, it starts here.

To learn more about Bake it Till You Make it: Breaking Bread, Building Resilience click here