3 out of 5 stars
Sometimes going on a walk can solve things, it gives your brain a chance to work in the background, the natural world can help calm things and it helps with fitness. Katherine May thought it would help her too, she wanted to try and understand why she couldn’t cope with the smallest of things anymore, why motherhood had been so overwhelming and why the world was pressing in on her.
The walk that she wanted to do was the South West Coast Path. This had its own set of problems though. It is quite long at 630 miles and it was the other side of the country from where they lived. But between her and her husband they came up with a plan that in theory would work; he would look after their son during the day while she is walking sections of it and pick her up at the end. She needed to keep the sea to her right and it would all work out.
Every scrap of noise – and I mean visual noise too, and the noise made by chaos and movement, drains me. Half an hour in a crowd or a noisy bar and I am hollowed out entirely. But the noise of the sea is different; it nourishes me. It allows me to reset.
It is on this walk that she has a chance encounter. While listening to the radio she hears someone talking about Asperger’s Syndrome and the answers that she hears are almost exactly the same as she would have given. This revelation is a bit of a shock, but knowing this, begins the long process of coming to terms with it and understanding just why she is different rather than simply awkward, arrogant or unfeeling.
The Maori have recently developed a new set of words to adapt their lexicon for the twenty-first century. Autism is ‘takiwatanga’ meaning ‘in your own time and space’. I find something in this definition that I’ve been craving all my life – the restless urge to live in the time and space that I was born to perceive rather than to fit badly into the one that suits everyone else.
This book is an open and honest account of her discovery of herself and a realisation of her limitations. May’s, Asperger’s diagnosis isn’t a label that will weigh her down rather it is a confirmation that she knew she was different in many ways to most other people. As her doctor tells her, there is no cure, but there are many ways that we can help you with it. There are parts of this where the writing is really beautiful and other parts where, rightly so, her emotional overload explodes on the page. I liked this overall, and if you think that you might be on the spectrum for autism then I would recommend reading this.