I am AspienWoman by Tania A. Marshall
First of all, to Danish readers, I am sorry I am writing in English, but I have had a few review requests by people, who do not understand Danish. Given that I have read too many websites auto-translated, I feel the essence of the review might be lost in auto-translation, if I write in Danish.
To English readers; it has been quite a number of years since I was at school, learning English, so there are bound to be some mistakes in grammar or spelling.
Secondly, some background information:
I was very recently at age 39 diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome with co-existing psychosis and depression, due to stress. I have since hitting adulthood built quite an extensive medical record, with repeatedly depressions, stress, suspicion of schizophrenia etc. My first attempt of reading about Aspergers was Tony Attwoods Aspergers Syndrome, but due to my depression, I just couldn’t focus on reading it. Every attempt just failed. So I have been looking for litterature that was less theoretical and easy to read. That is the reason why I ordered Tania A. Marshall’s “I am AspienWoman”.
Now I know I am going to sound like Sheldon Cooper… but I have a spot. I have a spot on my sofa, in the corner of it, where I read and write, while having a cup of coffee on the window sill right next to me, cuddled up in a large and supersoft blanket. I have tried out other places, but I just can’t concentrate or focus properly anywhere else. Why is that important, you might ask. It is important, because it explains one of my two issues with AspienWoman. The book is rather large, square and a paperback, so it was a bit difficult handeling the book in my spot. The second issue is also an aspie-issue, I think: the stylistic setup inside, with bold text, ordinary text, quotations across pictures was a bit confusing, because I like and had hoped for a more coherent, explainatory text, with pictures. A bit like Attwood but less theoretical and with more pictures. I like boxes, so the last part of the book with the schematics was right up my alley.
That said; if you are a woman diagnosed late in life with Aspergers Syndrome – you have got to read this book. I don’t care if you have a certain spot, like I do or if the stylistics confuses you a bit. Reading this book may very well be one of the best things you can do for yourself as a late diagnosed woman.
What the book does is that it takes certain subjects like education, subtypes, social, sensory issues and so forth and let other Aspien women and their relatives describe these subjects in their own words. Now I know I personally was hoping and expecting Marshall to do all the explaining, but it doesn’t really matter, because reading it from all those different people, who share a diagnosis, has a profound effect on you as a reader: essentially you get the feeling of belonging to a huge community. Having felt alone most of my life, this is beyond what words can describe. So let me describe how I reacted instead: I cried.
When I got my diagnosis, I felt puzzled and bewildered. Reading about Aspergers and youtubing, gave me a sense of “right, there might be something to it”. Now, there is not a doubt in my mind. There is just too many similarities, too many wake up calls.
Besides giving you a community, a sense of belonging, this book also provides you with a vocabulary in order to explain your aspie traits and characteristics to people, who may not know what Aspergers Syndrome is. And that, my dear friends, is something that is absolutely priceless.
It doesn’t matter if you have a certain spot and the book is a bit unhandy at that spot, because once you open the pages, you unravel a world that up until that point was unknown territory. You just keep turning the pages, discovering more and more people that feel, think and behave like you do. That have many similar diffuculties like you do. That offers their advice on how to cope with those difficulties, so that the scary unknown territory becomes familiar even before you travel it, for the simple reason that you suddenly realize that this has been your territory for as long as you can remember. You know these things, but comparing yourself to neurotypical people, you just thought you got it all wrong – right up until now.
Do not, please do not, let my words on my spot and the stylistics prevent you from reading this book. Reading the book, despite on the fact that I was sitting in a different more uncomfortable spot, is one of the best gifts I have recieved in my adult life. So many things has become clear to me. I still have a lot of work to do in my personal life as far as adjustments goes, but AspienWoman is a great tool for the work to come. I have had poor self esteem all my life, for 39 years of feeling different and alone and wondering why I couldn’t just be normal. Why I couldn’t hold a job, why I couldn’t keep friends and like many of you, I have asked myself what was wrong with me. But there is nothing wrong, I am an aspienwoman, who thinks and perceives the world in a different way than most of my peers. Different is not the same as wrong.
I am as said before currently fighting a depression and stressinduced psychosis. It was Wednesday, I was having a particulary hard time struggling the mental issues, feeling like I was worth nothing. My girlfriend brought me the book in the evening of Wednesday. Today is Thursday and I feel like I have something to give, something to fight for, something to offer to the world. I still have a lot of work to do in finding my special strengths, but I would like to think writing is one of them. Because I love writing and I definitly wouldn’t mind if I could do that on a more regular basis. Hey, I keep a blog writing about mental issues, plants, urban gardening and whatever else I can think of.
I am AspienWoman has given me a community, a sense of belonging – and hope and optimism. Now how can you possibly put a price on that?! Thank you, Tania, for showing me all those things.