“I feel like a lot of Muslims hide parts of their identity. I was certainly one of them. I would be that one that would pretend to go to the bathroom when I was really leaving to go pray, instead of just telling people.”
Mim Fatmi is a psychiatry resident at the University of Calgary.
What made you pick this career?
That’s a big question. Before I went into medicine, I kind of had this idea that yes, I wanted to ‘help’ people and be in this noble profession. I didn’t really have much of an idea beyond that.
In my undergrad I did a lot of neuroscience and psychology related courses and I just fell in love with those, so it was just lucky that I got into medicine and I found psychiatry as a discipline that combines those two fields.
My favourite aspect of psychiatry is the advocacy for people who are generally marginalized and generally stigmatized. Anybody with a mental illness automatically has stigma against them, but in addition to that, there are substance users who are completely misunderstood, and addictions are completely misunderstood.
What was your greatest challenge growing up?
I think my biggest challenge was being a first generation immigrant in Canada with parents who were born and bred from the home country, and struggling. You’re struggling as your parents are struggling. Your parents are supposed to be these authority figures, know how everything works, and here you are having to show them how to call a phone or internet company, to do all these things. It was a weird time for people in my generation transitioning through the pre-internet to the post-internet world. That, in combination with myself and my immediate family left everything we had in Bangladesh and then came here… kind of isolated. The four of us were all we had, both very isolating, but at the same time made our family relationship quite strong.
What is a habit that is uniquely yours, what is something that makes you, you?
There’s a very lame one, but I carry lemon water with my everywhere I go. People see it and get jealous because it looks so refreshing, and it is so refreshing! I took it every night to Tarawih (extra prayers performed by Muslims at night during Ramadan.), so there’s that!
Where is your favourite place in Alberta?
One of my new favourite sanctuaries is Princess Island Park in Calgary, which is a tiny little island just north of downtown. It’s not accessible by vehicle… you have to walk there or bicycle there. There’s nothing there except one restaurant business and other than that, there’s nothing to do there except take in all the nature and beauty. It’s actually really well maintained, there’s all these flower beds, geese and ducks…that’s my favourite place for quiet solitude and reflection.