Featuring: Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru: Yusha no Sho (Episode 4)
I know we're all getting into the festive mood, but this week's episode of Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru: Yusha no Sho covered a topic that is very real to a lot of people around the world, year after year. Even to those that are fortunate enough to be able to enjoy life surrounded by friends and family, many of us still can relate to what this episode has to showcase. As usual, spoilers ahead for this episode/series if you haven't seen it yet. This time, there are bigger spoilers than usual as well, so check this post out after catching up!
Things start off cheery as usual. The unity of the heroes and their strong friendship shines through the fun times they have together. Almost never do you see these characters wandering somewhere away from the pack.
But even the most fun of times can suddenly come crashing down on you like a 10,000 kg weight. In my case, this manifestation is called "anxiety". With Yuki Yuna, it was birthed through a curse she received when she quite literally went beyond the laws of time and space to save a friend. Without warning, her mind goes cloudy, and the vicious chain of problems arise.
This is a curse that quite literally destroys her body by slowly taking over it and engulfing it with a strange insignia. However, instead of screaming out to the best friends that will throw their own lives on the line to find a way to help her, Yuna regresses and only asks herself for salvation. This is the same way I often find myself dealing with anxiety and more severe panic attacks. When you're struck with these life-dampening symptoms, you come to appreciate the company of your closest friends, but sometimes just can't find the courage to drag them in with your problems.
So when Yuna's very considerate friend Karin pleads for Yuna to invite her into her own struggles, Yuna lies and inadvertently breaks Karin's heart in the process. This is the thin tightrope we often end up walking, which is weaved upon the already fragile threads of personal boundaries. Some of us are more open and considerate to help out, others find it tedious over time and limiting to focus in their own life, which is very fair. However, a true friend will always at least be willing to listen and to be honest with their stance on that tightrope. That's something I've been learning ever since I started feeling the harsher symptoms of anxiety.
This shot of Yuna drifting into a massive void is actually from after she tries to rescue her lost friend. However, it is a shockingly strong visual representation of what one's mind might go through when facing the worst ends of anxiety. More so than my primal fears of heights and spiders, I'd say my worst fear to think about is waking up one morning to find out that nobody else was on this Earth. When panic attacks hit, that fear seeps in like a toxin, turning a vivacious mind into a monochromatic and empty one. Things suddenly feel unobtainable. You feel like everyone who you always knew were your allies betrayed you and left. While attacks are usually not long lasting in the moment, for the time they are active, you truly feel lost.
Of course, there are pretty blatant physical symptoms as well. You break into cold sweats, feel like major limbs and organs are being crushed into dust, and you get sharp pains that even travel around the body. For others, this pain is also described as dull and achy, searing and stabbing. On top of these abnormal symptoms appearing out of nowhere, anxious people like myself also develop nasty hypochondria, to which these symptoms immediately tell our brains that the panic attack is actually a heart attack, stroke, cancer or whatever horribly devastating disease is lurking out there.
Yuna's way stronger than I am, as I can't express how many times I've felt these symptoms and ended up in the emergency room at 3 AM for an eventual "no major concern" or "panic attack" diagnosis. No matter how many body scans, blood tests and physical examinations I go through, my mind can't convince itself that I'm not dying. In the moment, it's absolutely terrifying. After almost a decade of living with these symptoms, I found the most horrifying thing is that it's so easy for us to conceal the fact that we're suffering. At work, it's easy to pretend that last night, while you wanted to scream so badly because of the pain, you sat peacefully at home and watched television. Inside, so many of us are fighting alone.
So this is my message to everyone who reads this. Most of us suppress some of the darkest parts of our lives for the people around us. While that's an incredibly thoughtful gleam in a world where there is far too much inconsideration, we're inadvertently preventing ourselves from extending the helping hands we so badly need. It doesn't need to be on the level of panic attacks, severe health conditions or crippling debt, even something small may grow into something much worse if you never let it out. If you're as introverted as I am and are always afraid of asking, try reaching your hand out to them first. I found it gets easier to reach back with the equilibrium tipped towards yourself first.
This final shot of Togo hugging Yuna without saying a word to her is perfect. Reach out, friends. Let us reach out to one another and show each other that no matter how crushing your problems are, we never have to find ourselves wandering alone in the coldness of isolation.