Duty. It is an old-fashioned concept. It describes a weird yet familiar combination of feelings somewhere between care for others and care for oneself. It is about doing the right thing.
But when someone is unhappy and fighting herself trying not to binge or not to starve or not to cut herself when she would rather do all three of these things, and more besides, if only doing so would help her avoid her own terrifying feelings which actually feel as if they are much more likely to crack her up than eating problems or self-harm is, it is so very hard to know what the right thing to do actually is.
When things are this difficult the idea of duty to oneself somehow seems completely irrelevant. We want to clutch at any straw – from self-harm and eating problems at one end to psychotherapy or religion or both at the other. But woe betide a psychotherapist who fails to understand that when we start to do something harmful to ourselves it feels at the time as if we have no choice. If the therapist’s duty is to understand how awfully, frighteningly stuck and despairing a person is in this situation.
Most psychotherapists do actually understand it and they/we respect the courage and trust people invest in coming to see us.
So if you are thinking about seeing a psychotherapist or dietician at The Surrey Centre than consider this: however confusing it may feel you must, above all, try to be true to yourself. Wherever it leads. This is what duty is – being true to oneself. If it means laughing or crying or withdrawing into silence or staying with the awful feelings that threaten to drive you crazy or even kill you, please use our help to help you feel safer being true to yourself.
Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre