Conference brings causes of trauma to light

By Christina Hunter

Outlook writer

Sean Wyman didn’t understand why he turned to drinking. He just knew that he felt a sense of reprieve from the buzz while he was trying to cope with a divorce.

On top of that, he was living with being sexually abused before he was 10 years old. It took another 16 years before Wyman realized that his experiences were the cause of his life going into a tailspin.

He later came to realize that he suffered with what experts classify as a perfect example of what trauma looks like.

An estimated 70 percent of Americans suffer with some form of trauma, surveys have shown.

Wyman shared his story while participating in a recent conference as one of several individuals who led breakout sessions. An estimated 200 people attended the day-long event at the Turnbull Conference Center.

During the sessions, the groups discussed ways for people who have had a traumatic experience to recognize the cause and how to live with it.

Wyman has learned to do just that.

 “The main experience was the sexual abuse I went through,” said Wyman, adding that his father was a drug dealer, while he grew up in poverty and he also was bullied.

 “I was in foster care at the age of 10 to 18,” said Wyman, who admittedly became a bully himself. “Because I never dealt with that for over 30 years I tried to hide it like it didn’t happen to the point I actually convinced myself it didn’t happen. But my subconscious brain wouldn’t let it go.”

Wyman said he has gotten to the point that he could recognize signs of trauma such as dispersion of negative energy that comes on unexpectedly.

Kelli Mercer, outreach director of behavioral health at Capital Regional Medical Center, was among the professionals who used the event to promote their services.

 “Trauma has such an impact on folks; their mental health and overall wellbeing (and) their ability to function in society,” Mercer said. “So many folks have been affected by some form of trauma. Trauma does not discriminate and at any given point any of us can be impacted by it.”

Other Trauma resource organizations that participated in the conference included Big Bend 211, which relies on volunteers like Gail Crisp to get its message out.

“When I retired, I was looking for volunteer opportunities and I tried a few different things. 211 Big Bend gives me the biggest chance to make an impact on individuals’ lives,” she said. “When I go to an event like this, I always feel like if the information helps one person, then that makes it worth the time and effort.”


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