Welcome to our unaccompanied tours (UT) blog, Foggy Bottom Rambles! We can share information, programs, and resources quickly with you and since blogs are a two way street, we (and the other readers) can hear from you. What's in a name you say? This blog reflects how we (back here in DC, Foggy Bottom area) provide information (rambles) to you. Find tips from the field, websites and information, home is where the hooch is suggestions, upcoming programs and events and follow our book club. Let us know what you think: contribute to the blog or email us at FLOaskUT@state.gov.
As an oncologist, every day I see people who have cancer
struggle with death and dying. Every day, I also see families struggle with the
inevitable end of life — families who aren’t really prepared for the avalanche
of emotions that sweep over them when the final moment comes, even if they knew
death was imminent.
I know how challenging and devastating the raw, intense emotions
of grief can be, because it’s happened to me.
I went for a run one frigid winter morning nearly 30 years ago.
When I got home, my son, Ed, then 18, compassionately broke the news — my
mother had died. Even though my mother had struggled with breast cancer and
alcoholism, the news struck me like a two-by-four whipsawed across my abdomen.
I felt drained of every ounce of vitality. It took all the energy I had to keep
from slumping to the floor. As the hours evolved into days, it became
exhausting — even physically painful — to make any decisions. Our family was
completely unprepared for the feelings of confusion and disorganization
following the news.
Easing the healing process of grief
Painful as my own grief was, my mother’s death gave me new insight on dealing
with grief. Although there are no quick fixes for the anguish after a loved
one’s death, I learned that you can take steps to make the coping easier. Here
are my suggestions:
grieve and mourn. Grief is an inner sense
of loss, sadness and emptiness. Mourning is how you express those feelings. You
might plan a funeral or memorial service, wear black, and carry a somber
demeanor. Both grief and mourning are natural and necessary parts of the
healing process after a loss.
your pain. If you don’t face your grief,
your wounds might never quite go away. Accept that the pain you’re feeling is
part of dealing with grief and moving toward a state of healing and acceptance.
·Look to loved
ones and others for support. Spending some
time alone is fine, but isolation isn’t a healthy way to deal with grief. A
friend, a confidant, a spiritual leader — all can help you along the journey of
healing. Allow loved ones and other close contacts to share in your sorrow or
simply be there when you cry.
major decisions while grieving. Grief clouds
the ability to make sound decisions. If possible, postpone big decisions — such
as moving, taking a new job or making major financial changes. If you must make
decisions right away, seek the input or guidance of trusted loved ones or other
·Take care of
yourself. Grief consumes a significant
amount of energy. Your will to live and ability to follow normal routines might
quickly erode. To combat these problems, try to get adequate sleep, eat a
healthy diet and include physical activity in your daily routine. Consider a medical
checkup to make sure your grief isn’t adversely affecting your health —
especially if you have any existing health conditions.
time helps, but it might not cure. Time has the
ability to make that acute, searing pain of loss less intense and to make your
red-hot emotions less painful — but your feelings of loss and emptiness might
never completely go away. Accepting and embracing your new “normal” might help
you reconcile your losses.
Losing a loved one is devastating. Someday, however, the sun
will shine again. The day will seem brighter and your life will go on — even if
it’ll never be quite the same.
Edward T. Creagan, M.D.
Division of Medical Oncology
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
reprinted from MHN Member Pulse Digest March 2015 for more information on MHN please write FLOaskUT@state.gov
Depression is serious but can be treated. More than a blue mood, depression can change thoughts, feelings and actions, and also how your body feels. Depression is a disease, and it takes more than just “toughening up” to manage it. Without treatment, symptoms can last for months, years or one’s whole life.
Depression comes in many forms:
·Depression can occur all of a sudden for no clear reason.
·Stress can trigger depression.
·Some people feel depressed once in their life; others feel that way often.
·Some people’s symptoms are so strong they cannot function as usual.
·Other people can still function but do not feel well.
·Some people have bipolar disorder (also called manic-depressive illness). They feel “low” at times and “high” other times.
Depression can lower your ability or interest in getting help. You may feel tired, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. For that reason:
·You may need help from family and friends to find treatment.
·You may be so depressed that someone must take you for treatment.
·Don’t ignore suicidal thoughts, words or acts.
·Seek professional help for depression.
The signs of depression
The following are some of the symptoms you may feel.
·Sadness for longer than two weeks
·Guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
·Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
·Chronic aches and pains that don’t feel better with treatment
·Eating problems (loss of appetite or weight, or weight gain)
·Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
·Loss of interest or pleasure in activities, including sex
·Problems sleeping (insomnia, early-morning waking or oversleeping)
When should you seek help
Call your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or talk to your primary care doctor if you have been feeling any of the above signs of depression for more than two weeks, or if they are hurting your work or family life. You can use the checklist as a starting point with your doctor or EAP for identifying depression. A good diagnosis involves a total physical checkup and a review of your family’s health history.
Depression often co-exists with other medical, psychiatric or substance abuse disorders. In those cases, depression is often not treated or even recognized. Even when depression occurs with other problems, it can usually be treated. The effective treatment of depression often seems to help other conditions to respond better to treatment as well.
This article is for informational and self-help purposes only. It should not be treated as a substitute for financial, medical, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice, or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified professional.
In this session we will discuss the challenges of change, identify different aspects of the change process, describe ways to modify your stress responses to change, and present options for making the most of change. A participant workbook accompanies the session and individuals are encouraged to request a copy before the session by writing FLOaskUT@state.gov.
New Format! Adobe Connect allows us to interactively communicate with you via the chat function anytime during the webinar. No training or experience necessary, just log on. A trainer from MHN (a Health Net Company) will facilitate the discussion.
Participants may attend in person or virtually.Virtual participants will need a computer with a high-speed Internet connection and speakers.
To participate in the webinar to: Department of State Webinar:Enter as a guest, type your first name and your post or future post. The session will begin at 8:00 a.m. (ET) and will last one hour. It will be held in Room 1239 of the Harry S.Truman Building.
To participate in-person: RSVP to FLOaskUT@state.gov. If you do not have a Department of State ID or diplomatic passport, please let us know so someone will be available to escort you.
Please direct questions or in-person RSVPs to FLO's Unaccompanied Tours office at 202-647-1076 or email FLOaskUT@state.gov.
According to WebMD, growing
research suggests that your diet may affect your mood.1 The following foods (and nutrients) may not
only be good for your mood, they can also help your overall health:2
·Omega-3s: Omega-3s may protect us from chronic stress damage. Canned
light tuna, sardines, flaxseed, and chia seeds are all good sources of
·Complex carbs: Carbs trigger the brain to make more serotonin, a feel-good,
calming chemical. Complex carbs provide a steady supply of serotonin. By
keeping blood sugar levels stable, complex carbs can also help you feel
balanced. Whole-grain breads, pastas and cereals (including oatmeal) are all
good sources of complex carbs. Avoid simple carbs, such as sugary foods and
·Vitamin C: Oranges are packed with vitamin C. Studies suggest this vitamin
can lower stress hormone levels while making the immune system stronger.2
·Magnesium: Low magnesium can contribute to headaches, fatigue and
premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Green, leafy vegetables, cooked soybeans, pumpkin
seeds, and salmon are all good sources of magnesium.2
·B vitamins: Vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins play a role in mood and other
brain functions. Low levels of B-12 and other B vitamins such as vitamin B-6
and folate may be linked to depression.4 Vitamin B-12 can be found in animal products
such as fish, lean meat, poultry, eggs, and low fat and fat-free milk.
Fortified cereal is also a good source of B-12 and other B vitamins.
·Polyphenols: Eating a diet rich in polyphenols (found in colorful fruits,
vegetables, spices, teas and wines) may support brain health and help battle
brain-related disorders. For example, green tea and turmeric have been
associated with better brain function, better mood and protection against
various brain diseases.5
·Tryptophan: Tryptophan helps production of serotonin in the brain. Try to
incorporate tryptophan-rich foods in your diet, such as pumpkin seeds, sesame
seeds and kidney beans.6
·Calcium: Calcium can ease tension, anxiety and mood swings linked to
PMS. Try a glass of warm skimmed or low-fat milk before bed.7