My first ever psychiatric appointment — a decrepit building in Sherman Oaks. Two young women with exquisite Armenian
eyebrows are seated at the front desk and don’t look up from their phones or computers. Enter: grinning white woman
with blonde hair, finalizing a copay. She laughs, remarking, “What do people do without insurance?!”
A door opens. “Farah?” Someone is pronouncing my name the Persian way. New setting: windowless office the size of a closet. “This isn’t where I usually work,” she says.
Dr. Lebas has a French accent, studied medicine in Montreal, has 1-star reviews on Google. But I was desperate. (There’s a great deficit of available psychiatrists in Los Angeles.)
She’s into rapid-fire questions. I, the neurotic, analytical Aries, made many prefaces before getting to any answers. “Just answer the questions,” she says, verbally rolling her eyes.
She asks if I went to college (yes — she appears surprised), what I studied (women’s, gender & sexuality studies), where I’ve worked (an understaffed, totally exploitative customer service satellite call center for a greedy, underhanded, Ohio-headquartered medical device company).
“You don’t make that much money, how can you afford to live here?” she asks. “Where do you live?” I ask. “The Westside,” she condescendingly responds.
She takes out a blank sheet of paper — white, 8 1/2 x 11 printer paper — and asks me about my family. She uses an old pen to formulate my family tree, charting all of my childhood trauma.
I look down at her sandaled feet. Her toenails are long and curly, lacquered with a color I will refer to as frosted vomit.
She questions me about my parents. When I tell her that my Greek-American mother married my Iranian refugee father, she looks puzzled. “Why did your mother marry a Muslim?”
This reminds me of a white woman coworker whose son took a class at West Point where “they show videos of Muslim men having sex with goats.”
This reminds me of a white Catholic acquaintance who told me, at a party full of Catholics, “You’re the closest thing to a Muslim we’ve got here!”
This reminds me of a white stranger at another party calling me “eye-ran” the entire night.
This reminds me of an old white man using the racist slur “sand n*****” in front of me when I was 5 years old.
Why did my mother marry a Muslim? Fuck you, Dr. Lebas.