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Searching for Serotonin: When Hardship Makes Happiness Hard to Find

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Mali Millie

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Psychiatric patient under suicide watch contemplates the meaning of happiness.
Book Description

“You don’t look like someone who wants to commit suicide,” says a fellow patient.
“I think that’s part of the problem,” I reply.


As a child of constant adversity, Mali Millie fought to find a way to not be consumed by them. With a mental illness developed from a dysfunctional family and childhood trauma, she fought to prevent her history from repeating itself by breaking family cycles, but it came at a cost. When she suddenly found herself in a psychiatric ward years later, she questioned how her pursuit of happiness which initially seemed to be a success could land her under suicide watch. Within those hospital walls, she reflects on her life leading up that moment and addresses difficult questions on overcoming childhood adversity: How does an 8-year-old see the world after touching their mother’s dead body? What type of self-esteem is developed after being bullied at school and at home? How does a child process growing up with an emotionally-absent, alcoholic parent? What does success look like for someone who grew up in poverty?

Mali invites the reader to walk along with her through her memories to find an answer to the question: What does happiness mean to an adult whose childhood was wrought with adversity and trauma?

Take Away / Theme
Meaningful happiness starts from within.
Target Audience
The more than 60% of adults who reported having had at least one adverse childhood experience as reported by a 2018 study by JAMA Pediatrics.
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