An open letter to Jung Da-eun who helped me understand healing and self-prioritization

Karishma Jangid
New Update
nurse Jung Da-eun

On 'International Nurses Day', here's an open letter to Jung Da-eun from 'Daily Dose of Sunshine' discussing our shared struggles with anxiety and depression.

What can an entertainment writer ever write about nurses? Nurses are mostly absent from cinema. At best, they are supporting characters who briefly visit the screen. But suddenly, the image of nurse Jung Da-eun from the Korean drama ‘Daily Dose of Sunshine’ flashed before my eyes—clad in her peach uniform, smiling gently, and giving out medicines to her patients. Not only did she give me an elaborate view of a nurse’s life, but she also made me feel represented and validated. I watched the series months ago but never really wrote about what it left me feeling. So, on this International Nurses Day, here’s me, penning an open letter to nurse Jung Da-eun, thanking her for helping me, and probably many others.

Also Read: 8 unconventional K-drama moms who will tug at your heart!

(Spoilers ahead)

(Trigger warning: Suicide)

Dear Da-eun, 

When I first met you, you were awkward, insecure, and even clumsy. Oh! How I felt seen! Being shifted to the Psychiatry Department at Myungshin University Hospital, you were reasonably nervous. As someone with anxiety, I could relate. You are so skilled and dedicated; I could see the honesty in your eyes. But perhaps your ex-colleagues couldn’t. They found you incompetent because you focused more on patient care than tasks. Irritated, I thought, “Da-eun is clearly such a good and empathetic nurse. Why not cut her some slack?” But that’s the thing. Even though your heart might be in the right place, sometimes you don’t fit in. You might not be able to fulfill people’s expectations. It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault—just different priorities. However, in the face of these complaints, you prioritized your values. It reminded me that our biggest priority should be to strive to grow better each day.

Now, I lack the patience you possess. Despite facing misunderstandings and attacks from patients with various mental illnesses, you chose understanding over offense. While others focused on their illnesses, you looked at the patients’ personal pain and troubles. As the patients navigated debilitating mental illnesses, you held their hand. This reinstated to me that no one is simply cruel, there is always something holding them back. If we are just careful enough to listen and willing to empathize, we can see the source of hurt. It is not our job to rescue people. Despite your efforts, you couldn’t save Kim Seo-wan from bipolar disorder. However, you showed that even in dire circumstances, understanding can prevail.

You weren’t perfect; nobody is. You always prioritized others’ needs over yours, sacrificing for others throughout your life. Seo-wan’s suicide didn’t cause depression; it was just a trigger. Your lifelong selflessness was bound to take a toll, and eventually, it did in the form of depression. As someone with depression and anxiety, I long to see representation that isn’t stereotypical or pitiful. I never felt seen until I saw you struggling with depression. Just like you, I struggled with denial about my depression. I, too, still fake normalcy at work. I, too, use work to distract myself from misery. When you were in bed for days, not eating or even moving, I felt so seen. Witnessing you isolating yourself mirrored my own experiences.  

For years, I believed depression was incurable. How can such an amount of grief ever be managed? How can this amount of grief ever be dealt with? Depression has been such a big part of me; what will I even be if not depressed? But seeing you persevere showed me healing isn't linear. We're all doing our best. Like you, I'm learning self-prioritization and setting boundaries, despite a demanding system. Your example reassures me that prioritizing ourselves is key to healing.

As I conclude, I wish for our continued healing, one step at a time, while holding onto empathy and kindness. We're fortunate to have supportive people around us. For instance, our mothers might not understand our illness, but they try their best to nourish us. Just like you have Song Hyo-shin, I have a colleague who always views me as a human first and employee later. Just as your nurse squad provides unwavering support, my content team makes me smile on gloomy days. With their love, our determination, and quality medical assistance, I believe we will be just fine!

❥・ — Daily Dose of Sunshine 정신병동에도 아침이 와요 (2023)

Here’s to healing and living!



Happy International Nurses Day!

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daily dose of sunshine Jung Da-eun