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Love Letter to My Depression

Kang, Yoo-Jin-A love letter to my depression-and a word respair - Yoo-Jin Kang (1).png

Artist: Yoo-Jin, Kang 

Washington, DC

Ethnicity: Korean

My project’s creative focus is interdisciplinary, integrating portrait photography, poetry, and affirmation writing.


My project, “A love letter to my depression” addresses mental health in a deeply personal way. While visioning for this work, I imagined sitting down with my depression, inviting them for tea, offering a blanket, and having a conversation. The idea was to listen first to what my depression had to say and then write a letter in response ...honoring depression’s impact and experience in my life, while also providing counternarratives. The energy of expressing gratitude and boundaries. I also wrote a list of affirmations in honor of a word that is not used in the English language anymore: “Respair.” Repair is the return of hope after a period of hardship. It was an inspiration to me in writing my letter and affirmations.


This submission is deeply personal in a multitude of ways.. First, I am writing to myself and my depression. Second, the photographs I use are self-portraits from a time in my life where I was actually at a height in my depression. I didn’t know fully what the future held, and I thought I had already experienced the happiest I would ever be. These photographs are a reminder that even in my low, I still felt a sense of hope that maybe I would be proven wrong (and I was). Creating art was an act of resistance, surviving, and respair.


Lessons from participating in this project: Being open and honest about my mental health has empowered me to seek care, through community, therapy, and self-work.


The opportunity to share creatively and honestly about mental health, specifically as an Asian-American woman, was incredibly affirming and deeply touching. The thought of reaching other AANHPI community members could bring me to tears because I ached for that so much of my life.


My message of hope for others: There are so many versions of yourself you have yet to meet. Be gentle with yourself as you discover them, reach out for support (so many people want to be there for you) and know that you are loved unconditionally, even when you feel undeserving of it.

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