I have a neighbour of several years now who suffers from OCD, the fear of contamination type.
She has apparently been this way all her life but I would say that she has become more extreme in the last few years. I have noticed more anger explosions and bizarre behaviour and am finding it increasingly difficult to deal with her demands. She has currently not bathed or changed clothes for several months due to fear of getting 'stuck' in the bath on a repeated washing cycle so no longer goes out as she is noticeably dirty and only wearing a thin thigh length shirt. She did have pants and undies on originally but recently threw them away. So I have been doing all her shopping for her. She leaves list/money in my letterbox ,usually late at night as she seems to sleep during the day and is up all night. We shop on a Saturday and Monday night so ask that lists are left in time for these two days. However, she often misses the deadline and leaves lists in between these times, telling us she is completely out of catfood etc. so we end up having to shop at all different times during the evenings in the week which we find quite time consuming and tiring. I should point out that we both work, my partner full time, myself part time due to suspected Encephalitis 2 years ago. I have spasticity, memory and fatigue issues which has meant that I am unable to cope with the working hours I used to do.
I deliver her shopping and put it on the outside bench, sideways to keep the rain out of the carrier bags as instructed. I often get collared for a chat, which I don't mind if it is brief but it can go on for over an hour as she is isolated and wants company which can be difficult if I am tired and it is late as I have to stand outside in all weathers and not lean against anything. She has a few cats and one in particular comes to me for a fuss, this was never an issue. More recently I have been chastised for responding to the cat, asked if I have handled money or what I have touched etc.,told to stroke it with the back of my hand or not to touch it at all, even though I have assured her that my hands are washed. This has put me right off staying to chat and I walked silently away last time after being chastised yet again. This caused an anger outburst from her and she followed me down the road to my gate, insisting that I listen to her and fiercely repeating the rules of hygiene as she believes - that even if I have washed my hands I have touched the bathroom door handle and probably other things so they are still dirty etc. In the end I pointed out that we have new neighbours, I didn't want them upsetting ( it was 11 o clock at night and not the time for an angry row ) and asked her to leave me alone, three times.She was still at it when I entered my house and shut the door. I actually felt bullied.
There have been other incidents in which we have unknowingly 'upset' her. Once when the car was having trouble starting we had to leave it running for a couple of mins while we unloaded her shopping and she flew angrily at us telling us that the noise was awful and to switch it off - when we pointed out that we daren't as it may not start again to get it into the drive she told us to buy a new car ! Only wish we could.
I was once not feeling well and asked my partner to deliver the shopping - apparently he left it on her doorstep so she was round the next day, asking why it had been left there instead of on the bench. Oops.
It seems that there are many rules, often changing that I cannot keep up with and no matter what we do we cannot get it right. Yet we are expected to do her shopping, at her convenience, not ours, and put up with the way in which lists and money notes in sticky cereal wrappers are presented, sometimes with handfuls of discoloured small change in when her money is running low. We have often soaked change in vinegar in an attempt to make it more presentable to shops, as I think it must be left outside, hence the discolouration. I learned long ago not to lend her anything after a book and electric drill got ruined that she had left outside in the rain, as they were too 'dirty' to go inside. Although I have often discussed with her about getting help and she agrees on one level, other times she appears totally irrational and seems to be forcing her beliefs on me, as if her methods are the only correct way and everyone else is 'dirty'. She once told me that Nature is clean, Humans are dirty.So anything natural or animals are clean but the fact that the cats go into places where humans have been makes them dirty. Last week she was chastising the cat for brushing against a food pouch on the bench that had not yet been wiped with Dettol. She was asking me why it says you can't use Dettol around cats. I replied that cats, like rabbits are sensitive to chemicals and can have allergic reactions, hence the warning on the bottle. She seemed to consider this briefly then continued to wipe the cat pouches down with it,neat, regardless. I do worry about the poor cats : (
I consider myself to be a very tolerant person but am getting to the end of my tether with this lady. Problem is, she has alienated herself from her relatives, friends and neighbours through her extreme behaviour and rules so that no one else will do her shopping, get phone credit etc. for her. I would be far happier just to provide the shopping without any personal interaction as I feel unable to remember or deal with all the accompanying sequencing rules and hygiene interrogation.It is like walking on eggshells these days.Any ideas on how to deal with this would be most welcome. On the one hand , am I enabling her to continue in her current extreme state by providing shopping and other errands ? If I discontinued this would she be forced to reconsider her state and given the incentive to help herself out of necessity, look elsewhere for another provider or worryingly, simply do without ?
A caring but very disheartened Angela x