More than a Diagnosis: Using Integrative Approaches for Living with Chronic Illness

photo 1508672019048 805c876b67e2Written by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW
November 10, 2021
Published at 

This story originally appeared on

As I sat among my peers during a college study group, I secretly tucked my hand inside my zippered UC Davis sweatshirt and gently massaged my aching stomach.

“Who knows the answer to question B?” a classmate asked …

I raised my free hand and confidently answered the question, almost forgetting about my throbbing abdomen.

Throughout college I was a straight A student. I enjoyed school. My studies not only made me feel purposeful and accomplished, but they distracted me from my uncomfortable body sensations. When my mind was busy memorizing and critically thinking, I disconnected from my chronic pains and traumatic home life and found a way to survive living with myself, inside my body.

However, my escapes from the stress, gurgles, gas, bloating, painful memories and stinging bowel movements were short-lived. Reoccurring worries swarmed my mind constantly. As soon as my distraction ceased, I went right back to asking, “What is wrong with me? Am I going to die? Why can’t my doctors help me?”

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Ram Dass: The Freedom of Being Nobody

Written by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW
October 21, 2021

I have spent most of my life regretting what I did not complete, wishing I were someone else, criticizing my body, and defining myself by my accomplishments and praises. Have you ever imagined what it would feel like to wave a magic wand and let go of all these expectations, definitions, and societal pressures? What if we focused on how to be nobody rather than somebody? Spritual and thought leader Ram Dass teaches us how to begin freeing ourselves in this video. I watched it several times. At first, the topic felt uncomfortable and unfamiliar, but now when I hear the message, I feel like this is where I am supposed to be: Freed from expectations, labels, thoughts, and judgments. 

Masaru Emoto and the Hidden Messages in Water

Written by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW
September 28, 2021

Sometimes what we cannot see is the most powerful. Our thoughts, feelings, emotions, words we say to ourselves and others, and the energy of people and experiences around us affect our cells and bodies on a deep, energetic level. When we look at our lives in terms of the bigger picture, we discover there are hidden messages everywhere. When we open our eyes, hearts, minds, and thoughts, anything is possible. Masaru Emoto captures these profound hidden messages in water---how does this information apply to you and your life? 

We See It Too Late: Robin Williams on the Fragile Meaning Of Life

Written by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW
September 28, 2021

Sometimes we are so focused on problems, tasks, and immediate pulls for our attention that we miss the bigger picture. Robin Williams reminds us of what is most important and why we must not wait to see life's moments until it is too late. Life is too precious. 

Why I Hate Getting My Hopes Up and What Happened the One Time I Did

little girl hopeWritten by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW
August 25, 2021
Published at Tiny Buddha

“This post was republished with permission from You can find the original post here.

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.” ~Oprah Winfrey

When I was a little girl, I made many wishes. At first, I believed all of my wishes would come true, just like in the fairy tales my mother read to me before bed. However, slowly but surely, life changed my attitude, stole my optimism, and I stopped wishing.

My parents fought a lot, and their unhappiness made me believe that I was not good enough. Poverty replaced my birthday wishes with socks, the bible, and sheets for my bed.

When my parents divorced, my father abandoned me and I was sure I was broken and unworthy; after all, I believed that if a father could leave his own child, then it must be my fault.

My mother’s hurts turned into bitterness. Criticism, disappointment, and blame replaced her nurturing voice that used to calm my fears. The few wishes I held onto faded into the fog of confusion, fear, self-hatred, and catastrophe.

Instead of wishes, I believed that bad things would always happen to me, and I made an unconscious pact with my mind, body, and spirit to close the door to good things ever happening.

My heartache and grief drained my childhood innocence, and I transformed into a wounded adult, going through the motions of life not feeling or experiencing much of anything and keeping my guard up for the next brick to fall on me.

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How to Join Nature and Recover from the Dixie Fire

Written by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW
August 30, 2021

With our national forest fire crises and the Dixie Fire personally affecting my family, I have been thinking more about commuities, natural resources, and how to use our past lessons to create a brighter future. We can expose ourselves to new ways of living and customize the ways for our betterment despite the storm clouds outside our doors. I feel it is important and imperative that we retain our open-mindedness to keep the spark alive in our hearts and minds. By taking into consideration lessons from the past and the experiences of thought leaders, we can continue to grow, learn, and improve our lives and communities. A simple example is demonstrated by how this group of Australians approach forest management. They involve the local community and their natural resources to facilitate synergistic changes. 

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World Para Dance Sport Shows Us Everyone Can Dance

Written by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW
August 25, 2021

Ballroom dance changed my life in many ways. I am emotionally, mentally, and physically heathier because I discovered my passion. Dance Sport connects me to my body in ways that help me love and appreciate my existence more than I ever imagined possible and despite my past history of childhood trauma. Too often I hear people say, "I cannot dance." When I ask them "why," they respond with personal insults (I don't have the body type, I have no talent, I am not healthy enough, I have two left feet). However, we limit our potentials with our negative personal beliefs. Unless you open your mind and allow yourself to experience limitless possibilities, or just give something new a try, how do you know your limitations? World Para Dance Sport inspires me and makes me want to live more, try harder, and appreciate all the magic that is right in front of us every day. Enjoy this video. I know this talented young lady and she represents the next generation of youth with honor. 


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