DEAR AMY: My neighbor, who is otherwise clean and healthy, imagines being spied upon, imagines break-ins and is generally paranoid. My neighbor is clearly disturbed by these thoughts and I worry this person might go “over the edge.”
I don’t know any of my neighbor’s friends or family, if there are any. What can I do?
DEAR CONCERNED: I shared your question with Dr. Ken Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He and I agree that, depending on the severity of this situation, you could start by simply asking your neighbor, “Do you have a friend or family member I can call for you?”
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You can also call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at: 800-950-NAMI (6264) (NAMI.org). Trained volunteers answer calls such as yours 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (EST) Monday through Friday.
You don’t provide details, but also keep in mind that some of the behavior you notice could also be signs of dementia.
If you feel this person’s actions rise to the alarming stage and pose a risk to him/herself or others, call 911 and be very specific with the dispatcher that this is a mental health call. Report exactly what you see. Some police departments have crisis intervention teams. Ask if there is a CIT officer available. Then repeat all of this to the responding officers, for instance: “This is a mental health call. I don’t think she is dangerous, but she is delusional and I think she might need to be transported to a hospital.” (Officers may not have received all the information you conveyed to the dispatcher.)
Mental illness 911 calls pose a risk, both to the person suffering and to responding officers, so conveying and repeating correct information is vital.
DEAR AMY: Some years ago, I had a vasectomy, thinking at the time that I would never want to have children.
I am now engaged to a woman (Catholic) who wants to have children. I have changed my mind, and would like to have children as well.
At the time I had the operation, the doctor told me there would be an 80 percent chance of reversing it. I have decided to reverse it. Is it necessary for me to tell my fiancee about this?
Being a devout Catholic, she might think badly of me for having had the operation in the first place. Your advice would be appreciated.
What to Do
DEAR WHAT TO DO: If you are not Catholic and you are afraid to speak honestly with your fiancee about choosing a birth control method before you even met her, then it’s possible that you two are a mismatch. (Perhaps you worry that she will become aware of sexual partners you had before her?)
If you are a Catholic and believe this to be a sin, then you should seek pastoral counsel and confession with a priest. I assume that reversal is appropriate in the eyes of the church. This would be an important question to ask.
Imagine what it would be like if you chose not to tell your fiancee about this. Surely you would want to explain why you have been under anesthesia for the reversal procedure.
All of this should be discussed frankly and honestly before you marry. If you are married in the church, pre-marital counseling would be required – but regardless, you two should sit down with a counselor (pastoral and/or secular) to air these important issues.
DEAR AMY: You published a letter from “Observer,” who noticed a dynamic in their group of married couples, where one of the women, “Susan” was monopolizing the time of a man (not her husband), “Greg.”
I was in Susan’s shoes, and yes, it should be a huge red flag to Greg’s wife. I was in a group of friends when I fell in love with one of the husbands. Needless to say, it turned out badly for everyone – it broke up the group, as well as my marriage.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that my attraction to “Greg” was only a symptom of the problems in my own marriage. Had I faced them and urged us both to get counseling, I might still be married to that good man today.
Sadder but Wiser
DEAR SADDER: You have described this fairly common dynamic perfectly. I appreciate your candor and am so sorry for how this turned out for all of you.
Write Amy Dickinson at email@example.com.