Big Feelings and Advocacy
Speaker Series featuring Jaana Woodbury. Interviewed by Dr. Howard Gluss, Clinical Psychologist based in Los Angeles.
Jaana Woodbury: My name is Jaana Woodbury, and I'm the Director of Marketing and Business Development for 90210 Recovery in Beverly Hills. Beyond that, I am a sober woman in recovery, I'm a mother, and I'm a wife. Naturally, through being in the industry for so long, I’ve really grown to love advocacy work. So I do things like go to Washington DC to stay on top of the policy reform regarding treatment, as well as advocate because of my story internally - with my family, getting sober with my husband, and being a mother of four kids - I share that family system component. I’ve also done a lot of advocacy work in terms of being connected with Sesame Street. So that’s a lot of information but I do a lot. That’s kind of who I am in a nutshell.
Dr. Howard Gluss: Can you tell us a little bit about the work you’ve done with Sesame Street? I know they had a recent show where they talked about addiction.
Jaana Woodbury: Yeah, so essentially with Sesame Street, there's a platform called Sesame in Communities, and it’s their nonprofit side. Sesame Street as a whole is a nonprofit, but it’s their initiative to really look at struggles within a household that a child might go through - whether it's autism or in this case, it's substance abuse. How does one deal with parents being in active addiction as a child? So, it's essentially giving language to children through this platform.
Dr. Howard Gluss: So, in the broadcast, what were some of the ideas and concepts that were covered as far as helping kids deal with parents dealing with addiction?
Jaana Woodbury: So, a big concept is talking about big feelings. As children, when there is chaos within the household, they don't have the language to really identify what's happening. So very simply, it works on identifying what is anger, what is sadness, what is happiness, and validating that it's okay if you’re mad. So, one of the series is actually a video series on YouTube in Spanish and English for children. One of the videos is specific towards big feelings, and the other one is specific towards mindfulness and meditation and how to take that step back as a child.
Dr. Howard Gluss: I want to go back for a moment to your work in advocacy because there's a lot of things people can feel passionate about. So, I'm wondering how your work in advocacy connects to who you are and your life specifically? What is it that you're trying to bring out in your advocacy work?
Jaana Woodbury: That's a really good question. I’m trying to bring a lot. Essentially, it’s just bringing awareness to it. Addiction, in general, has a huge stigma. Being a woman in recovery and a mother in recovery - a lot of times, we see that the female population in treatment is a lot smaller than the male population. You learn that women are typically the last ones to get help - whether it’s because they're taking care of somebody or whatever the case is. Sometimes, it's harder for them to step away. So bringing awareness and advocating for those who don't have the education, the knowledge, or the support. It's pretty cohesive with the family unit as well. Typically, you see when one person gets well, the whole unit will rise or they don't.
Women, naturally being the mothers of children, it's important for them to get well because it's the next generation that needs that generational healing. It can be so powerful. Through my own experience as a mother, getting sober when my oldest daughter was two, I’ve had to go through a lot of trials and tribulations. I felt a lot of disconnection because there wasn't a platform or awareness to give me the language and allow me to feel connected to something or a purpose. I'm so passionate about advocacy in terms of that, and it kind of trickles into advocacy in treatment as well.
Dr. Howard Gluss: I agree with you. I think purpose is such an important element, especially for people dealing with sobriety. I often say to people, “After you're sober, what's next?” That's what you've been able to do. Through your advocacy work, you're able to help people answer that question as to what could possibly be next. With the couple of minutes we have left, are there any final thoughts you'd want to share with people that are listening to what you're doing right now and how you may want to inspire them?
Jaana Woodbury: First and foremost, I would tell anyone who's currently struggling that it's important to be realistic and come to terms with what sort of help you need. For me, initially getting sober, I had this ego, and I felt like I had to present or be a certain way because I was a mother, for my child essentially. But knowing that it's okay that you're human and we all have those struggles. And in my experience, pain is what has been the most connecting and binding factor in all of my relationships. It’s the human connection. So that's the biggest thing - allow yourself to be human and to get that support to get well.
Dr. Howard Gluss: I think it's so true about purpose and embracing your pain. Through the pain, you’re also able to find your power. Through that power, you’re able to find that individual journey for yourself. I feel like the more people are connected to that journey and what it means for them, the greater the chances of staying sober but also the greater the chances of having a passionate life. That's what you've done. Every time you’ve talked right now, it's so obvious that you're so passionate about your advocacy work. That would not have happened, had you not been sober. So, I want to thank you for that, and thank you for coming in.
Jaana Woodbury: Thank you.