Ask your doctor: FGM and shock therapy

My psychiatrist’s office.  I have just signed in and taken the questionnaire: Today I am a 21 on the craziness scale.  I am ready for the long wait in my regular spot in the back left corner. Thank god they have wifi.  I am not well, and am missing classes, sleeping 18 hours a day, with voices in my head chanting “die die die”.  It’s about half-way down to the pit of despair where suicide becomes necessary.

10 min.  Google: Dr. M.  He has 2.5 stars. He is 62, Egyptian, and I’ve seen pictures before of his hijabbed family on his shelves.  I wonder if his wife and daughter have had female genitalia mutilation, but that’s more south. The topic of FGM is a dangerous one for me; I’ve seen movies of it, which play over and over in my mind.  But I indulge in it for a minute.  OK.  Enough of that. 

30 min.  Google: “How much education do you need to get an MD in Egypt?”  Six years, aged 18-24.  11 years in US.  At that point, they earn $647/month in Egypt, so, many take their MDs to the US.  At 19 years of age, my doctor decided on psychiatry.  At 19, he decided to analyze Western, non-FGM women’s problems.

45 min.  Google: “How are women treated in Egypt?”  The news shows sexual harassment, intimidation, no basic human rights, arranged marriages of girls.  What does my doctor think of women?   He doesn’t listen to me.  My last psychiatrist was Middle Eastern, too.  He started cursing at me (profane curses, oddly enough, since he wasn’t Christian).  He said my problems couldn’t have anything to do something like menopause — silly of me.    I got a letter in the mail that he wouldn’t treat me any more.

60 min.  Check FB.  Check messages on all three email accounts.  Wait.  Try to read The Infinite Jest .  My doctor pops in and takes another patient.  I am next.  Even if I have the first appointment of the day, I wait an hour, but then I get to watch him come in late wearing a tan camel’s hair coat and ear muffs.  I wonder if keeping people waiting has a different cultural meaning in Egypt.

75 min.  I’m in.  His hijabbed family smiles out at me from the shelves.  I’m unhappy, unable to function at my job.  He asks, “How do you make up the time to the students when you decide just not to show up?”   He says, “Well, you’re not going to be a professor much longer.  You better find a job you can do.”  OK.  More:  “I think you need ECT  three times a week, for a month.” Are other options?  He answers, “I am not going to continue seeing you unless you follow my instructions.”

85 min.  I’m out, paid, and scheduled for the hospital.  If I can’t be a professor, what do I need my brain for anyway.  Fuck it.


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