Please Don’t Make Me Talk About What I Write

I write about my personal struggles because I don’t want to talk about them.

LaToya Baldwin Clark


A pen writing “I am a writer”

It happened during a professional discussion about possible collaboration.

“Yeah, I read your work and I read your blog”

It happened at school pick up.

“Yeah, even behind your mask I know what you look like because I googled you and read your blog”

It happened during coffee with a colleague.

“Yeah, you’re so brave because I read your blog and I wouldn’t be able to do that”

When I began to write in public forums about my personal life, and especially my struggles with bipolar disorder and chronic pain, I decided not to write anonymously. In these days of blurring personal and public there was little point. As a google detective myself, I knew that where I attended school and what I was studying (cause I wrote about that), how old I was (cause I wrote about that), how many kids I had (because I really wrote about that) — you could probably find me. Like most of us, my personal is public.

When I began to write publicly, I was a new graduate student in a young marriage, in the throes of unmanaged mental illness, parenting very young children and far, far from home. A year or so after I began to write, I admitted myself into Stanford Hospital’s psychiatric ward in the middle of a quarter, dropping all the balls. I stayed for a week. When I was released, I walked out of the hospital spiritually naked, completely without protection from the elements of stares, judgment, and pity. I didn’t tell anyone. I wrote about it. So everyone knew.

I write under a name that is not my own, but more as a nickname and a catchy placeholder, not in place of my real name. I like my catchy names — Dr. Mama Esq., playing on my academic and personal life as one identity — but I directly attach them to me as I’m known off the page. I want to be seen but not stared at, my words center stage while my identity stands in the wings. But I’m not trying to hide. A depressive tweet, a painful Facebook post, a tortured post: everyone who wants to know that it’s me can and will. They can know that it is me, LaToya, in my flesh, that’s hurting.



LaToya Baldwin Clark

Law professor. Living with Bipolar. Teach and write about the law of educational inequality, property and the family. Mom of 3. All opinions my own.