The Spring 2020 anime season is underway, a glimmer of hope and joy in the midst of the global pandemic that has us all stuck at home and many of us wondering how we’re going to make it through. Regardless of the current situation, stress is a common thing in our modern world and so are anxiety and depression, which are usually caused by the former. Almost serendipitously, Fruits Basket delivered some advice we all need to hear in these difficult times.
Art Imitates Life
In the second episode of Fruits Basket, as if done on purpose, Tooru, Kyo, and Yuki are all faced with the uncertainty of their futures—much like the situation many people are in now. In class, they are asked to think about their plans after graduation and, for different reasons, none of the three know what their futures hold. Yuki just doesn’t know what he’ll do, especially considering his peculiar situation, Kyo assumes he’ll be locked up in a hole for the rest of his life come his next birthday, and poor Tooru can’t help but feel pressured and lost when she thinks about all she’s lost, what she has, and how easy it would be to lose it all again and finally, all she’s been bottling up comes out. It gets to the point that our cheerful heroine breaks down crying in a heap of uncertainty and anxiety.
Now, this may not be true for everyone, but it is safe to say that many people, no matter their age, are faced with thoughts of self-doubt and feeling lost at different stages of their lives and for different reasons. Some have a tendency towards anxiety and/or depression and some who don’t have the tendency may be put in a position that can cause a bout of one or the other, or in some cases, both!
Feeling overwhelmed by one’s situation is not unnatural, and when things are out of our control, like the Souma curse or Tooru having lost her mother and having just the worst family ever, it’s easy to just feel like crying in helpless desperation. And so, when Shigure, being the elder in the house, hears Tooru’s grief, he can’t help but impart the best advice anyone experiencing these feelings of anxiety needs to hear.
“If you feel worried when you think, it’s better not to think! Imagine you’re surrounded by a mountain of laundry so big that you can’t even move. You have to wash all of that by hand. Thinking about it will make you feel overwhelmed and wonder if you can even do it. You think about it and think about it, and time just keeps passing by."
If you focus on how much there is and how long it will take you and what a seemingly insurmountable task it is, you will likely fall apart and feel devastated. Instead, Shigure advises to “...start by washing what’s at your feet. It’s important to think about what’s ahead, but it’s also important to think abotu what you can do NOW in the present. If you continue to wash one by one, eventually, you’ll be done and the sun will shine again.” If you focus only on the one thing right in front of you, the one closest, easiest, smallest thing, one at a time, you will feel calmer and eventually, you’ll be out of the weeds.“The worry will sneak up again sometimes but, when that happens, take a break. Read a book, watch TV, eat with your friend"
We all needed to hear this right now. Whether you have always struggled with anxiety and/or depression or if you are anxious now because you lost your job during the pandemic, are worried about your loved ones getting sick, or simply because it’s a stressful situation the whole planet is in right now, Shigure’s advice is for all of us. Face one thing at a time, take it slow, and breathe. And for goodness sake, don’t bottle things up!
Stay healthy, everyone!