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 platonic relationship.

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.