A couple of the blogs I read have recently touched upon the topic of things we don't blog about, things we do blog about, and how you choose where to draw the line. I recognize that here, I write about things that a lot of other essayists wouldn't touch with a ten-foot fountain pen: Appearance, the internal workings of social justice movements, psychiatric disorders, and a lot of others. I do it on purpose.

One, this blog is pseudonymous. You could probably find me if you really wanted, but there's no real point in making it easy. I don't care if other people can link this identity with me, the physical person, but I've had a lot of issues with dysfunctional relatives in the past, and I try to at least keep a couple of clicks between Google results on my real name and the name under which I write. I don't think they'd do anything physically or legally scary, but they have a habit of writing me long vicious screeds about the things I say, particularly if I mention them, and I've decided that I'm a adult now and I do not have to take rides on this merry-go-round anymore. I also don't want to make it easy for anyone else to find them through me. I've tried calling them out publicly on the damaging shit they do, and it doesn't seem to give them any incentive to behave any better, or even apologize for the past. My experiences are mine, and I have every right to draw on them whenever I find them useful, but outing them would just encourage people to attack them or me or both, and that wouldn't fix anything. There's no point.

Two, this is the kind of thing that circles endlessly in my head anyway. I string sentences together like I'm afraid if I don't use all the words I've got stored up, an accountant somewhere will decide to slash my vocabulary for the next fiscal year. These monologues write themselves, and keep themselves alive in a sort of delay-line storage, where the actual string of sentences, worded and arranged on the page exactly as you guys get it here, will keep replaying in snippets whenever I would otherwise be running some sort of mental screensaver. If I don't type it out, it accumulates until eventually so much stuff is crammed in there my brain explodes. It's my blog and, subject to the limit of current libel laws, I can say whatever I damn well please here. The contents of my backup SRAM have to go somewhere.

Three, I'm a social scientist by training. Digging up and talking about the taboo is what we do. The internet is a fantastic place for this -- people will type things that they would never in a million years tell you if they had to look you in the eye. (This can be good or bad, but is almost always educational. The comments section on YouTube can be a horrible place socially and emotionally, but where else am I ever going to find out how to say things like 'I shit on you and your hunchbacked whore of a mother' in badly-spelled Catalán?) I can start a sentence with, "Hi, I'm a sociologist, and I was wondering--" and before I can get to the end of it, someone is asking me where they should be emailing their autobiographical manifesto plz kthx. I am both tactless and curious by nature. People just want to punch me less when I do it online.

And finally, I do a lot of this because I can. I have an unusual advantage, especially when I'm picking apart psychiatric disorders and social dysfunction: My intellect works even when nothing else does. (I also have other, more boringly common advantages, which mostly boil down to being white, upper-middle-class by birth, educated, heterosexual, a native speaker of English with citizenship in a first-world country, and free of any dependents like children or elderly relatives that might catch blowback from what I say. Try asking someone who isn't one or more of these things what it's like dealing with, say, university financial aid, or psych services. Not. Fun.) When I do drag myself into the ED, I look like a complete basket case on the verge of collapse, but I sound completely lucid. It confuses psych staff to no end, but it also means that I'm quite capable of explaining things and advocating for myself -- or even getting downright ornery and walking out on someone who is treating me badly -- in a lot of situations where other people aren't. I don't think I'm obligated to use this on behalf of the entire world, any more than I'm obligated to use my brains to become a medical researcher and cure cancer even though I refuse to dissect things and chemistry labs terrify me, but it does mean that if I feel up to it, there's a way for me to do so.

Things like emotional abuse and anxiety disorders happen to people without rhyme or reason. They're just life events, not meaningful suffering. But I can choose to take what I think about this stuff and make it meaningful in some way -- in this case, by talking about it, I do think I'm doing something to alert other people that they're not alone with their problems, and that these things do not make you a broken, worthless human being. Evidently, I can be quite helpful; I go through bouts of being the Epiphany Fairy for complete strangers, who respond anonymously to various blog entries and comments with OMG THANK YOU I JUST FIGURED SOMETHING OUT.

Comments