Sean Conohan is thrusting PTSD in the spotlight in hopes of eliminating the negative stigma attached to the condition.
©Carole Morris-Underhill – Hants Journal
HANTS COUNTY – A new podcast aimed at discussing a difficult subject is hitting the airwaves this Sunday.
Former paramedic Sean Conohan is launching UpTalk, a monthly podcast focused on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), on Jan. 17 around noon.
“March 17 was my last day working as a paramedic so that's why I chose the 17th of the month to put these podcasts out,” explained Conohan.
“God willing, unless something comes up, it will be the 17th of every month.”
Conohan, who is also a volunteer firefighter in Hants County, started working as a paramedic in 1997 and changed careers in 2014 after PTSD symptoms emerged.
PTSD symptoms vary from person to person but often involve mentally reliving or re-experiencing a trauma, increased anxiety, and avoiding thoughts, situations or people that remind the person of a traumatic experience.
Last December, he launched a Kickstarter fundraising campaign. Much to Conohan's relief, his goal of $3,000 for necessary recording equipment was met on the last day of the campaign.
“It was nerve-wracking. It went right down to the last minute,” said Conohan of the fundraiser.
“It was very exciting, overwhelming really, to get that accomplished especially during the Christmas season.”
He said he hopes the podcasts will raise awareness of PTSD and help to eliminate the negative stigma attached to the condition.
The first episode will be an introduction to Conohan, his vision for the podcast, and will introduce Dr. Robin McGee – a clinical psychologist that specializes in PTSD treatment – who will host a segment called Clinically Speaking with Dr. McGee.
The initial podcast will provide “a general overview of what PTSD is and why it affects first responders at such an alarming rate,” said Conohan. “It's to give everybody a foundation of knowledge so they can go forward into the other episodes.”
The podcast will be available on YouTube (search UpTalk Podcast) and on Vimeo. It will soon be available on iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud, Conohan said. His Facebook group will provide updates alerting interested listeners to when the podcasts are available.
He said the response he's received to date has been heartwarming.
“Really positive feedback, even in my own fire department. There's lots of talk about it, which is nice to see,” said Conohan.
“We will be standing around talking like we normally do but we will be talking about PTSD and talking about ways to get help or avenues to get therapy, which is really uncommon. Five years ago... you wouldn't have the conversation openly with a big group of people, especially with superiors there. People would be just terrified to have that conversation. But now, it seems to be opening up and people aren't afraid to talk about it, which is great.”