Dancing Inspires Youth and Brings Life to Community

ApplegatePhoto Credit: Tony Nguyen Pictured: Season 29 ADC Graduating Seniors Left to right Top: Alicia Joo, Isabelle Messner, Anna Hoeft, Sarah Yeung Bottom: May Wang, Juliet GeeWritten by Casey Hersch
July 11, 2022
This article originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise

Undoubtedly the past three years have been filled with various losses resulting from the pandemic. Whether it be socializing, live shows, or dining out, many of us lost connection to our invigorating sense of “aliveness.” We all felt shut-down to some degree on the inside as the world shut down on the outside.

Yet, despite these uncontrollable losses, an iconic Davis dance studio, Applegate Dance, still found ways to revitalize the community and redefine how to feel alive even when the world seems chaotic.

Applegate Dance Studio returned to the stage after a three-year pandemic performance break. “Alive In The Arts,” the meaningful title of their program, graced the Brunelle theater stage with dancers of all ages and abilities. The symbolism of this event shined greater than even the smiles and sparkles in the room. Simply put, no matter what life brings, you can find meaning and hope when you connect to music, movement, community and creativity.

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Reclaim the Power of Writing Letters for Healing

Letter writingWritten by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW
June 30, 2022

When I was a child, my favorite gift for my birthday and holidays was stationary. I loved the colorful box sets with pen, envelopes, and notes. Beyond the hot pink colors and kitten picture note paper, my mom taught me to write "thank you" notes to people whenever I had something for which to be grateful. I sat down with my notes, pen in hand, and wrote (often in cursive) my letters. Then, I stuck on a stamp, walked the letter to the local post office, and snail mailed my note. I established a deep appreciation for letter writing as a way of expressing myself and sharing feelings. Over time, I received my first journal, also known as a diary. I kept track of events in my life such as boyfriends, breakups, health problems, and even travels. Letter writing was a normal part of my life. When I traveled, I even wrote letters to family and friends sharing my experiences and they wrote me back. Until my grandmother passed away last year at 95, we still wrote letters to each other as a main way of communication. 

As an adult in 2022, I realize that writing letters as a form of communication and self-expression is becoming a lost art. Even though I still collect stationary and mail cards whenever I can, I rarely receive cards. When I have deep and personal thoughts I want to express to someone, I still write a letter to them. Writing helps me process my feelings, organize my thoughts, and even heal. Sometimes I write a letter and throw it away, but it still helps me release tension, stress, and bad memories. Recently, when my therapist suggested I write myself a letter in order to process some of my conflicts, I thought about how many people don't write letters. This article in Psychology Today talks about the value letter writing offers to our mental health, relationships, processing, and general well-being. The tactile process of taking a pen in hand is actually very important---try it out once in a while. You may be surprised what you learn about yourself. 

<Read the article in Psychology Today>

High Costs of Healthcare: Know When to Take Charge of Your Diagnostic Options

newsletter picWritten by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW
June 23, 2022
Published at DrAxe.com

This story originally appeared on DrAxe.com

This is part three in my article series on Dr.Axe.com. Part one was Using Integrative Approaches for Living with Chronic Illness. Part two was Integrative Healing & Becoming An Empowered Patient

If you live with a chronic illness or have landed in the Emergency Room, then you know imaging studies and diagnostics are expensive. As a patient who lives with Crohn’s disease — an autoimmune, inflammatory bowel disease — I am very familiar with medical debt. I am also familiar with other stresses associated with diagnostics: excessive testing, reactions to radiation and contrast agents, and generally feeling overwhelmed by my insurance and healthcare system.

Recently, I discovered that for people who rarely use medical services, navigating the system can still be daunting. As I watched my husband agonize in pain late one evening, I took immediate action. However, this one trip to the Emergency Room for kidney stones left our family with a $5,000 bill. Feeling vulnerable and scared, my husband and I understandably trusted and relied upon the on-call physicians to make decisions on his behalf.

While the medical staff compassionately tended to his needs, they also performed numerous scans, even repeating to confirm and then reconfirm what prior scans already showed. We left the Emergency Room exhausted, in debt and with merely an over-the-counter prescription in hand. I could have walked across the street to CVS, bought the same OTC pain medication and saved $4,995.

Inflation is affecting every industry; hospital costs are no exception. Now more than ever, all of us are vulnerable to medical debt and associated healthcare stress. When we are scared or desperate to find answers, we are naturally placed in a vulnerable position and at the mercy of our educated physicians.

However, all too often, we accept our doctor’s recommendations without question. This passive approach is loaded with consequences when patients accept procedures without knowing the financial, physical and emotional costs. Now is the time to educate ourselves and understand how to navigate the complicated healthcare options.

Many of us learn our lessons after the fact just like I learned from my husband’s unpredictable trip to the ER. Preventing unpleasant surprises always reduces stress. One of the best ways to cope with unpredictable healthcare stress is to practice your right to self-advocate. When we feel empowered over our health plan and choices, this eases the financial blows and also places power back in our control.

After all, it is your body.

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Dr. Jeffrey Lackner Explores Behavioral Treatments for IBS and Pain Disorders

Written by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW
April 16, 2022

After years of living with Crohn's disease (an autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease), I am just starting to understanding the psychosocial influences that influence my symptoms, disease progression, and recovery. For years, I focused on merely physical symptoms and how to stop them. However, there are so many variables affecting my symptom presentation. Simply taking medications and having surgeries does not get to the root of the issue. Healing involves physical, emotional, and passion dimensions. Dr. Lackner's work is crucial for understanding complex health conditions that don't respond well to conventional medical treatments. Not only is it important to feel in control of symptoms, but it is essential to recognize how our errors in thinking (not intentional) contribute to symptoms. Our mind is an integral part of our existence and Dr. Lackner's work is changing the terrain for how we treat pain and other disorders such as functional gastrointestinal disorders. Please listen to this interview with an open mind and heart. Know your history and yourself.

Dr. Jeffrey Lackner from University at Buffalo speaks with Casey Hersch, LCSW (https://lightyoursparkle.life/) about the importance of behavioral treatment options for chronic pain disorders, in particular Irritable Bowel Syndrome and functional gastrointestinal disorders. This interview addresses techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, diaphragmatic breathing, hypnosis, emotional regulation, drug-free alternatives, rewiring erroneous patterns of thinking, and patient empowerment.

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Learning NonViolent Communication With Marshall Rosenberg

Written by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW
March 29, 2022

During my clinical training, I learned about Dr. Rosenberg's nonviolent communication methods. Throughout my life, these methods have served me well. During a time when violence penetrates our thoughts, media, and world, nonviolent commmunication methods remind us that we have control over how we react and respond to others. We are all connected, so when we alter our responses and model compassionate communication, we positively affect everyone around us. Communication is at the heart of every action, violent or not. This intro video will expose you to the concepts and then the links, below, will give you free resources to further explore. You can also buy Dr. Rosenberg's book if you wish to dive in even deeper. 

https://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/learn-nonviolent-communication/key-facts/

https://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/learn-nonviolent-communication/4-part-nvc/

Dana Berkowitz Talks About Botox And The Feminist Dilemma

Written by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW
March 28, 2022

When I turned 40, my filters changed. Suddenly, I saw wrinkles on my forehead, lines around my eyes, and deep nasolabial folds. I thought I saw the wrinkles growing, deepening, appearing, multiplying before my very eyes! Then, I woke up to reality. Many of my peers, colleagues, role-models, icons were not aging naturally. In fact, I was comparing myself to others, believing I was aging poorly, when in fact, they were having cosmetic procedures, using botox, injecting fillers. I wasn't aging "worse," I was aging different---the natural way. I was allowing my aging to show itself on my face. I cannot say that I like the process of aging, but I do know that I am an all-natural person. Regardless of what people and even doctors say, I don't believe botox is natural and safe. I am going to ride this aging process naturally and allow my changes to be a testament to my life lived, my feelings expressed, and my body's service to me. 

Recently, I stumbled upon this video which is one of the best videos I have ever heard! Dana Berkowitz really unpacks the larger, more deeply rooted issues our society faces with aging. She also talks about the hypocrisy and the lies we tell ourselves and others about aging. I highly recommend no matter where you stand on the aging line or how you feel about procedures or not, this video will give you a lot to think about.  No matter what choice you make---own it, tell the truth. 

 

 

 

 

Integrative Healing & Becoming An Empowered Patient

patient doctorWritten by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW
February 10, 2022
Published at DrAxe.com

This story originally appeared on DrAxe.com

This is part two in my article series on Dr.Axe.com. Part one was Using Integrative Approaches for Living with Chronic Illness.

During my childhood, I suffered from one illness after another. My parents believed that doctors had all of the answers to our life and health problems. Their perspective, though well-intended, created a dangerous situation for me.

This complete acceptance of physician recommendations rapidly sent me into a downward health spiral. We didn’t realize there were other alternatives for healing beyond the conventional Western medical model that focuses on symptom reduction, pharmaceuticals and diagnostics.

Now, decades later, most of what we learn about our bodies still comes from the media, educational institutions, doctors, elders and the community that reinforce that our bodies are merely physical beings. Sadly, we rarely consider questioning those powerful influences.

When Symptom Management Causes More Symptoms

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