It’s so painful to watch someone you love go through the intense stages of having bipolar disorder. My best friend Valerie and I have been through everything together. Literally everything. From our first kiss to our wild sex stories to freaking out about the fact that being 21 is way harder than they make it sound in the movies. We met when she was 13 and I was 14, through our softball league and travel softball. Neither of us had the luxury of having an easy time growing up in middle school and high school. We spent most of our time sitting in the guidance counselors office trying to figure out why this darkness takes over and causes harm to our bodies. We never supported each others self-harm because we knew it wasn’t healthy, but we were always there for each other with no judgement or disappointment. We understood what we were both feelings. As we grew up and began learning about ourselves (usually right after a close call), we realized that our mental disorders were very different from one an other. Valerie was the first to begin understand how her mind works. Her worst time was near the end of high school and freshman year of college. She suffers from depression and bipolar disorder. I however, have been diagnosed with major depression and anxiety disorder. When we put our heads together, we could probably host a mental illness talk show with all the issues we have. But no matter how much you know, it always hurts your heart when you see someone you love experience the stages of their mental illness and you know there really isn’t anything you can do. I have been watching her go from extremely happy to balling her eyes out for a few days now. The mood swings happen so fast and it can be hard to keep up with. It is so tiring for her because she has no control over her emotions. I wish I could pull her out of the darkness she gets thrown in. But all I can really do is be there to hold her hand. When mental illness’ are understood, it is easier for everyone when it comes in full swing. Ignorance is the most dangerous thing to have when you are close to someone who struggles with any form of mental illness. So if you don’t know anything about it, google it and understand what it is and how it affects them. And most importantly, how you can be the most supportive. Mental illness is nothing to be scared of, you just have to be educated about it.