My writing has been an extension of my thought life since I was a kid. When solutions or situations are hard to understand in my head, I can put them into a document, and suddenly they feel clearer. I write out responses or thoughts or ideas — not only for other people, but so I can understand them.
I’m not very good at articulating things in person sometimes. My brain races and stumbles and wanders; I forget what I’m saying, trip over words, or forget important points. Even when in the rare moments when I can manage to grab a moment of calm, it’s hard for me to come to conclusions. Everything feels jumbled, chaotic, and overwhelming. Maybe it’s the fluidity of thoughts in the abstract. Maybe it’s my ADHD or my current stage of life, constantly surrounded by noise and movement.
Let me back up. I’ve always been super uncool. I generally feel uncomfortable in pretty much every setting. School was not a great place for someone like me. So I started writing. I sat in classes and wrote all day long. Teachers thought I was taking notes, when really, I was recording my thoughts, and processing things with a pen and paper. It was an ongoing narration and processing of my surroundings — a way of noticing things without awkwardly spewing my observations at classmates. It was a way to turn the world around me into something I could understand.
I don’t think I realized what I was doing until I was well into my 30s. But writing was my equivalent of thinking things through. The world is chaotic, and my brain can’t always organize it in a way that makes sense. But words can. The awkwardness, frustration, loneliness, and any other emotion melt away once I identify them. Something about naming your pain steals its power. It makes it smaller.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that my words had the ability to spin all of the brutality of life into a story that offered glimpses of redemption and truth. Most of the time, those words were only for me, and that was okay. It didn’t have to be a best seller to change my reality. All they had to do was make it out of my brain.
This is the importance of books. Of the authors who pour their soul onto page after page and send their art out into the world. Who share small moments of painful beauty with us and remind us that we aren’t alone. That everybody has stories to tell and that we get to decide how they go. They remind us that growth and healing are possible, that wonderful things exist, and they teach us things we never knew we needed to know.
Reading and writing are how I manage my mental health. The process of vomiting words onto my keyboard is an ADHD treatment, therapy, and organizational tool all in one. I don’t know how to not write, because it’s the only way things make sense for me.
Without words, it all falls apart.
About the Writer: Allie Gravitt is a mom of 3 and lives in metro Atlanta with a house full of animals. Her debut poetry collection, prisonbreaks, is available now on Amazon.