When was the last time you masturbated?
the psychiatrist asked me matter-of-factly.
A tall, elegant older man who wore a bow tie, he read from a list of questions for first-time patients. I was a grief-stricken, 40-year-old woman whose father — also a psychiatrist — had recently died from a rare, aggressive cancer after only an eight-month illness. I’d erupted into a state of frenzy unlike anything I’d previously experienced. I needed to calm down, care for my family, continue working and cope with my mother’s bursts of rage. I could barely pay attention when my two sons spoke to me; my heart raced and skipped beats. My blood pressure had shot up dangerously. I was obsessed that the misshapen mole on my inner thigh was melanoma. Masturbated? Seriously?