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Mental Health: Boundaries are essential for caregivers who want to avoid burnout

Lisa Marotta is a practicing cognitive behavioral psychologist in Edmond and has a family member with a mental illness. She will be sharing her special insight at the first of a series of talks sponsored by the NAMI Affiliate Edmond North-OKC.
by Jean Williams Modified: August 5, 2014 at 5:21 pm •  Published: August 5, 2014

Have you ever felt hopeless or overwhelmed when trying to help a family member that lives with a mental illness? If so, it may be a sign that healthy boundaries are not being observed.

Lisa Marotta is a practicing cognitive behavioral psychologist in Edmond and has a family member with a mental illness. She said there are wide variations in functional mental health, and by identifying the places where someone has trouble taking care of their self, you can identify the symptoms of mental illness.

Without practicing healthy boundaries, there is a tendency for caregivers to experience burnout. Boundaries as essential for families, Marotta said.

“The constant negotiation and development of a healthy relationship with at least one person who isn't very healthy requires a good understanding of boundaries,” Marotta said. “[With] all mental illness there is some difficulty with relationships. As a family member, being aware of what your boundaries are helps you in deal thing with someone whom you dearly love, but may not be as clear in their boundaries because of their symptomology.

“If we surrender our boundaries to the other person who struggles, we start to lose some of our mental health.”

Marotta said it’s not a good strategy to give the person who had a hard time with a skill the power to upset your balance and stability when his or her stability is fragile.

Another common mistake is waiting too long to communicate. Many of us were taught to tough out problems, “To suck it up,” Marotta said, but we might feel guilty about meeting our own needs first. This tends to backfire and result in an overcorrection that will create more problems.

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by Jean Williams
NewsOK Contributor
My degree in Psychology did not prepare me to recognize mental illness in my own family. I authored the brochure "What to do in a Mental Health Crisis in Oklahoma County," not because I had the answers, but because I didn't. A wide variety of...
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