Today’s moral dilemma comes from “Anon”:


We live in a block of twelve flats in a nice quiet “leafy” suburb of Sydney with lovely neighbours and so on - with one exception. The lady representing the body corporate also lives in the block but appears to be suffering from some kind of mental illness.

You could say that she is a bit lonely. But there is also something else going on because she seems to to need to know what is going on with everybody else that lives in our building. It is not uncommon to see her rifling through the recycling bins to ensure there are no non- recyclable items and she also writes us long letters in regards to he state of the rubbish, or the washing and so on. However, the big issues, like security, adhering with fire laws and the wiring of the block, are not addressed at all.

It’s hard to know how to approach her about these oversights without being rude or unfair about the way she is dealing with her duties, but our apartment block is suffering.

My dilemma is this: is it ever okay to ignore a person’s mental health issues?

Most commented


Show oldest | newest first

    • Scotchfinger says:

      11:32am | 15/06/12

      The lady representing your body corporate appears to suffer a mental illness? I believe she also represents my body corporate, that would explain many things. However I would love to send my representative completely mad as payment in kind. *dreams of cruel deeds to inflict on body corporate representative*

    • sha says:

      02:02pm | 15/06/12

      I hate the body corporate.I just want a cat.How dare they tell me I can’t have a pet!

    • sha says:

      02:01pm | 15/06/12

      I hate the body corporate.I just want a cat.How dare they tell me I can’t have a pet!

    • Scotchfinger says:

      02:57pm | 15/06/12

      keep one anyway, and challenge them to have it legally removed. Should keep em busy. And if they come around, throw cat at their face. Ha ha, should be worth a laugh at least.

    • MarkS says:

      11:38am | 15/06/12

      Sure its ok to ignore a persons mental health isses it they are not a danger. But it is not ok to ignore her inability to do the Body Corporate role correctly. Appoint somebody else & ignore her issues. Sounds like she who find right into politics.

    • Millsy says:

      12:14pm | 15/06/12

      Sure its ok, as long as you’re prepared to deal with the consequences, moral, legal or otherwise.

    • Tim says:

      12:22pm | 15/06/12

      Go David Thorne on her arse with some well written long reply letters.

      Fun for the whole family.

    • Justme says:

      02:34pm | 15/06/12

      David is my hero. I want to be him when I grow up.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      12:22pm | 15/06/12

      Why not just raise the other issues with her? Honestly this is the kind of thing anyone in your situation has to deal with, it’s what their role is, if you don’t like it move. If everyone is experiencing the same issues then you should all raise it with her, if she doesn’t listen then go to the body corporate and explain the situation.

    • iansand says:

      12:28pm | 15/06/12

      One person does not “represent the body corporate”.  There is a committee, with more than one member, managing it and members of that committee must stand for re-election every year.  Talk to the other committee members (there should be a notice board somewhere showing their names) and get them onto the problems. Then mobilise to roll this woman at the next AGM.  Your apathy is part of the problem.

    • acotrel says:

      08:38am | 16/06/12

      Under state laws, bodies corporate are set up to be democratic, and there are avenues for redress without raising issues about other people’s mental health.

    • year of the dragon says:

      12:30pm | 15/06/12

      She sounds a bit odd at worst. Nothing in that makes me think she’s got a mental health problem.

    • Anne71 says:

      04:55pm | 15/06/12

      Sadly, it seems that anybody who does not behave in exactly the same way as everybody else in every situation is now considered to have “a mental illness”.  No room or tolerance for eccentricity in Australia these days!

    • Mark G says:

      12:35pm | 15/06/12

      Mental illness or any disability should not be an excuse for not doing critical jobs. Mental illness (as bad as it is for sufferers) does not overrule security, safety and so on. If you can’t do the job, you can’t do the job. Provisions should always be made for the employment of people who suffer from these type of illnesses were possible but if it means that they are putting peoples lives or livelihoods at risk then I am sorry but your illness/disability does not get you a sympathy free ride.

    • KH says:

      12:38pm | 15/06/12

      You are kidding right?  This sounds like body corporate weirdos everywhere - especially in flats where a lot of them are rentals, and there are one or two owner/occupiers who don’t work, and have very little else in their lives.  In my last block there was one - constantly in everyone elses business, changing recycling bin stuff that was wrong, constant nitpicking and telling tenants what they could do inside their flats which was none of his business.  And he never fixed the big things because they cost money, and as he was unemployed (his wife worked), he didn’t want to spend any - he was as cheap as.  The place was falling apart.  Just go over their heads - either to the body corporate management place, or to the owner of your flat.

    • Nathan Explosion says:

      01:46pm | 15/06/12

      God, yes. The guy across from me doesn’t seem to realise that even though I am gone from 7am to 6pm, I do actually work full time and can only mow my lawn on a weekend. This does not stop him from leaving little notes in my mailbox telling me to mow my lawn.

    • Em says:

      02:31pm | 15/06/12

      I work with one of these old body corporate misers… he’s a few weeks off retirement (due to redundancy) and I’ve listened to him for years chasing up the various occupants in the block for things like washing on balconies, bins in the wrong spot, the placement of pot plants, etc.  He also takes it upon himself to fine anyone who is moving out for having the agents nail a sign to the fence.  And yep, god forbid anyone for needing anything important done on the block. I’m glad I don’t live there. I would have probably thrown something heavy/sharp at him by now.

    • Fiddler says:

      12:40pm | 15/06/12

      or just tell her to f#%k off. I agree with being sympathetic to those with mental illnesses. I do not agree with the concept that everyone should just have to “put up” with their behaviour if it impacts upon them

    • renold says:

      12:41pm | 15/06/12

      Ignoring is the last thing that should be done. Lets face it we have numerous pollies who decide matters on our behalf, while being diagnosed as being depressed

    • Lish says:

      05:42pm | 17/06/12

      Being depressed doesn’t necessarily render you incompetent. If they are depressed whilst managing stressful job they should be applauded. Would you suggest a person whose spouse had just died would be incompetent in grief? Possibly but not necessarily.

    • Sigmoid says:

      12:41pm | 15/06/12

      A pile of moist cat droppings sealed in an envelope addressed to her and left in the paper recycling bin for her might convey your sentiments. It would be a joy to read her response letter.

    • Laura says:

      12:46pm | 15/06/12

      As someone with significant mental health issues, and an inability to deal with any real amount of stress, I am definitely sympathetic toward to woman in question. What can you do to support her? There’s no room for self interest when someone is suffering. I would do the humane neighbourly thing and help her address her problems first before ‘demanding’ anything.
      I get the frustrations you may have, but take a moment to breathe a little, and put yourself in her shoes if possible. I have recently had to deal with someone who was very demanding of me and lacked empathy…. in the end she was the one who looked a fool, because at the end of the day our innate empathy wins out over demands and modern day stress.
      And by the way… mental health does usually improve with the right support, it won’t last forever, be patient!

    • Kassandra says:

      12:49pm | 15/06/12

      Speak to her like you would to any reasonable human being, you never know, she might even turn out to be one. If that fails, presumably you still want to try and sort out the issues with the building’s maintenance etc, in which case it is probably best to ignore her eccentricities as far as possible and do what you have to do. Getting the other residents on side would help to avoid it becoming a personal issue between you and the lady in question which is what you want to try and avoid if possible.

    • Anna C says:

      01:00pm | 15/06/12

      This lady obviously has boundary issues.  I cannot believe she is rifling through other people’s garbage.  What an invasion of privacy?  If that was not appalling enough she then has the cheek to write spurious letters of complaint to the other tenants.  This lady is a control freak at best.  What is it about body corporate that brings out the worst in people?  This woman has dictator tendencies.  I’d try and get her shipped off to Syria ASAP.  President Assad could use more people like her.

    • Max Power says:

      01:05pm | 15/06/12

      Is it ok for a mentally ill person to run the country? Pathological lying can be regarded as a mental illness, and can be seen as sign or syptom of deeper pyschological issues.

    • Di Azepam says:

      02:09pm | 15/06/12

      From your comment Max, I would say you have some issues as well.

      Seriously, where do people like yourself draw the line?

      Of course it wouldn’t be OK for a mentally ill person to run the country.

    • Max Power says:

      02:29pm | 15/06/12

      Well we have a pathological liar for a PM.

    • Leon says:

      01:10pm | 15/06/12

      She doesn’t seem any nuttier than the regular Abbott-kiss-assing commentators on this blog. Nobody is reporting them to any authorities - yet.

    • Ginger Mick says:

      01:12pm | 15/06/12


      especially when reading some of the political comments on this site

      that apart, NO,

      we are our brothers/sisters keeper and anyone in distress should be taken seriously and helped in any way possible, even if it is just a call to put help their way.

      Do unto others ......

    • te says:

      01:16pm | 15/06/12

      every block of flats in every street in every suburb has one of these residents

    • Carl Palmer says:

      01:20pm | 15/06/12

      On such an important issue there were probably lots of other scenarios where this title could have made for a more robust and engaging exchange. Oh well, opportunity lost.

      As a member of an EC, I’d be thrilled to have someone like her. We have the opposite problem - crap everywhere and no one cares. Recycle bins – what are they?

      It sounds to me like the rest of the EC need to become more involved in her activities as she doesn’t have the authority to just “do things” as an EC member unless authorised by the EC. Simple fix, if it’s such a problem, then vote her off the EC. Somehow though I don’t’ think that will stop her.

      Maybe that’s all she is capable of dealing with. Matters such as security, adhering with fire laws (don’t start me on this) and the wiring of the block are technical matters, so it wouldn’t surprise me if she doesn’t understand this stuff. Having said that, member(s) of the EC should.

      Ok she may be engaging in what we believe to be a few peculiar activities, does that mean she has a mental illness? For example, if she was born with these particularities then as per the Govt guidelines she does not have a mental illness.

    • Mayday says:

      01:36pm | 15/06/12

      This lady sounds rather tame compared to one of our neighbours. 
      Not only does she go through people’s garbage but she sets up a “mess” in common areas and then accuses whoever she is angry with at the time of causing her grief!!

      This woman also talks to herself very loudly and strikes up conversations with complete strangers who happen to walk by, after a few minutes they cannot get away quick enough.
      We all know she has mental health issues but she and her family are in complete denial, they actually leave her with their young children to babysit and many times she has left them unsupervised while she has been sorting out “problems” which don’t really exist. 

      I think its also related to years of living cooped up in a small flat with little money, few friends and a lot of time on her hands.

    • Bitten says:

      02:45pm | 15/06/12

      Oh for god’s sake, she’s not mentally ill. She’s just a busybody and a slackarse.

      Believe it or not, even in this day and age, douchebags exist. And some of them live in apartment blocks. Some of them even end up on the committee for the Body Corporate. Can we please stop attempting to excuse bullsh*t behaviour with classifications of “borderline personality disorder combined with anxiety and adjustment disorder with depressed mood”? She’s just a bored old bird with f*ck all to do in life but invade other people’s privacy and waste their time because she labours under the misapprehension that other people actually give a sh*t about her opinion. Go to any P&C, footy club, school association or other Body Corporate committee and you’ll find one just like her in every one of them.

    • Kika says:

      02:58pm | 15/06/12

      Dear Anon,

      Now I’m going to be criticised here, but have you ever met a menopausal woman before with a chip on her shoulder? I’m serious. Perimenopausal and menopausal women are seriously nuts and go beserk at the tiniest thing. My mum used to flip her lid at the tiniest thing. She even screamed at my sister for having 1 single post it note on her bedroom floor. They are nutters. The tiniest things end up being massive dramas for them.

      I had a similar sort of situation where a lady in my apartment complex (I thought she was an owner by her behaviour) had to know what everyone was doing in the complex at any point and would do similar things. Turns out she wasn’t even an owner at all. She was just a rude busy-body. But I miss her now because she kept everyone in line. Now there’s parties, visitors and all sorts of random cars being parked in the driveway. She’d flip if she knew what was going on now!

      Seriously though = Mental illness shouldn’t be ignored. It’s up to friends and family do say and do something though. Strangers shouldn’t be telling people that they need to be locked up if they actually aren’t crazy but just a menopausal. You know what I mean?

    • Fiddler says:

      03:14pm | 15/06/12

      kika, ignore the menopausal part of it. It’s simple…..

      bitches are crazy

    • Craig says:

      03:21pm | 15/06/12

      There is a wide range of norms for human behaviour. Your body corporate lady is unlikely to fall into the category of self or other harming.

      The ones to really worry about are the people who seem ‘normal’... That is how every serial killer is described by their neighbours “they were quiet, kept to themselves, quite normal if a bit dull”.

      Mark my words - those ‘normal’ people are seething volcanos and hatred and frustration just looking for an outlet!

    • kitteh says:

      05:07pm | 15/06/12

      I’m going to disagree with the majority here and say that this does sound a little like an anxiety disorder to me. Some of her behaviours - attention to small detail in neglect of larger issues - are typical of OCD. The rubbish-sifting is often a sign too. Unfortunately, it is difficult to distinguish from OCPD, the similar but far less treatable and less pleasant personality disorder. So the first task is to try to distinguish which one it is.

      Talk to her - casually, in a friendly fashion, and say something along the lines of ‘You seem really worried about this stuff. It must be pretty exhausting to you.’ A genuine case of OCD, nine times out of ten, will become distressed or embarrassed, or try to hide the problem with a joke or excuse. An OCPD will react with aggression and superiority - they don’t see their behviour as pathological. In that case there’s nothing you can do.

      If the person does open up, its’ worth saying you know someone who had a similar problem. Even if you didn’t (and most OCD sufferers hide it) it will make her feel less of a freak. Then tell her the GP helped your imaginary friend a lot. Should it be your problem? I suppose not. But the high-functioning mentally ill are the most marginalised and least likely to seek or be helped under the current system. A kind word may be all that is needed to set her on the path to recovery.

    • St. Michael says:

      05:45pm | 15/06/12

      First bit of sensible advice in the bloody thread.

    • bael says:

      05:37pm | 15/06/12

      I agree. I am crazy as a bag full of cats. However I am also not a douche.
      People need to understand crazy is not an excuse for behaviour. Recently my behaviour was ‘out of control’ so I went back on my meds. Now I am behaving better, I might be crazy but I am not someone who wants to impact in a negative way so I try my best not to.
      Also I keep my mental illness a secret from all but my closest and dearest becuase of attitudes like anon above thinking crazy means different rules apply to us. Crazy douche or non crazy douche is still just a douche.

    • stephen says:

      06:11pm | 15/06/12

      Withhold your rent.
      Nothing makes more sense to a landlord than a tenant who has them by the balls.

    • basmati says:

      08:10pm | 15/06/12

      With respect Anon, unless you have the relevant qualifications, you are in no position to make a mental health diagnosis. The woman sounds bored and lonely. Is befriending her totally out of the question?

    • Kipling says:

      01:49pm | 16/06/12

      I am more than a bit curious. Why ask us lot if it is ok to ignore mental illness? Why would you not be asking successive State and Federal Governments if it is ok, after all, they have made it an art form almost….


Facebook Recommendations

Read all about it

Punch live

Up to the minute Twitter chatter

Recent posts

The latest and greatest

The Punch is moving house

The Punch is moving house

Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…

Nosebleed Section

choice ringside rantings

From: Hasbro, go straight to gaol, do not pass go

Tim says:

They should update other things in the game too. Instead of a get out of jail free card, they should have a Dodgy Lawyer card that not only gets you out of jail straight away but also gives you a fat payout in compensation for daring to arrest you in the first place. Instead of getting a hotel when you… [read more]

From: A guide to summer festivals especially if you wouldn’t go

Kel says:

If you want a festival for older people or for families alike, get amongst the respectable punters at Bluesfest. A truly amazing festival experience to be had of ALL AGES. And all the young "festivalgoers" usually write themselves off on the first night, only to never hear from them again the rest of… [read more]

Gentle jabs to the ribs

Superman needs saving

Superman needs saving

Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more



Read all about it

Sign up to the free newsletter