Sense & Sensitivity

Woman's Erratic Behavior Worries Neighbor

DEAR HARRIETTE: We had a power outage in our building, so the electric company guy made the rounds to all of our apartments. One of my neighbors opened the door for him -- naked. I learned about this from him when he was working on my apartment. He was so taken aback he said he now avoids her. Other people in my building have said that she suffers from mental illness. I don’t know, but I am worried about her. We have had a lot of trouble with our power, and I don’t want our misfortune to leave her vulnerable. What can I say or do to help her? -- Neighbor in Crisis

DEAR NEIGHBOR IN CRISIS: It is very thoughtful of you to want to look out for your neighbor. If she truly does suffer from mental illness, you may not have the tools to fully support her, but reaching out to check on her is a good idea. Don’t bring up what happened with the electric company worker. Instead, ask how she is doing through all of this and if you can be of any support. If you know of other neighbors who know her better, ask them what you can do to be helpful during this stressful period. Being in good company could help to make her feel safer during this troubling period. Perhaps you can invite her and a small group of others over for a meal -- if you are able to cobble one together with no power.

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