I spent today visiting my best friend in a psychiatric ward
. I had
assumed, having not seen her for nearly a week and finding her house
to be empty, that she was taking a much-needed holiday
with her kids. It
was only by a chance encounter with a mutual friend
that I found out
all was not well.
11pm yesterday, and I was shopping for booze at the convenience
store. "Andy!" - it was Di. She asked if I'd heard what had happened
to Claire. I knew it wasn't going to be good. Claire was in hospital
after suffering "some kind of breakdown", was all Di knew.
In the year that I've known her, I have grown to be very attached to
Claire. We have very few secrets, we're on each other's wavelength,
we just click. At various times, we've each felt a good deal of
affection for one other, but we both know it'll probably always be a
Suddenly all the emotional investment, everything about Claire that I
know and love, is at risk.
I find her on the ward. Her connection
with reality appears seriously damaged. She recognises me, but is
barely able to sustain conversation. As we talk, her mind is leaping as topics
barge in to her speech with no respect for coherent discourse. We hug, and then she carefully counts out five two-penny pieces and gives them to me, "in
case the tooth fairy comes." I fight tears to present
myself as the strong friend she can rely on.
She's suffered a psychotic episode. Her memory of recent days is
severely fragmented, and we may never fully understand what happened.
I want my Claire back, the smart, funny, warm soul I counted on so often, not the empty shell occupying the space where
she used to be. I am powerless but to hope that the doctors know what
they're doing. The ground of my life has suffered an earthquake.
Falling in love with someone who has more mental health issues than
you is going to hurt, sometime.