This episode is with Annie MacIntosh. Annie is a content creator, marketer, and masters of counselling student living in Vancouver BC. In the episode we start off by discussing Annie’s role as a content creator and influencer and her love for nature, before diving deeper into her experience living with depression, how she takes care of her mental health, and more about her desire to help others as she completes her masters program. I hope you enjoy this episode with Annie MacIntosh.
00:00:22 Balancing ambition and mental health.
00:06:46 Importance of authenticity online.
00:14:30 Language shift in mental health.
00:22:28 Recognize stages, take proactive steps.
00:28:37 Importance of self-compassion and acceptance.
00:32:38 Importance of self-advocacy in mental health.
00:37:18 Embrace your deep feelings.
00:42:35 Practice radical acceptance of yourself.
First Session exists to help you find the right therapist for you so you can get help now. We deeply believe that the fit between you and your therapist is the most important factor for a positive outcome. First Session is committed to making your search for a therapist user friendly, transparent, and trustworthy.
[00:00:00] Rob Pintwala: [00:01:00] Thank you so much for joining me on this October afternoon here in bc.
[00:01:41] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah.
[00:01:42] Annie MacIntosh: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.
[00:01:45] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Wanted to get started by just asking you a little bit more how you describe what you do and all the things that you do, in terms of, you know, how you keep busy.
[00:01:55] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah, I mean, it's kind of been a bit of an all over the place journey [00:02:00] for sure. But right now I am freelancing, yeah, as a social media manager, photographer, and content creator. And I'm also in school full-time doing my master's screen counseling psychology. So that's kind of the headlines of what I'm doing right now.
[00:02:16] Rob Pintwala: Amazing. Sounds like a lot to juggle at once.
[00:02:19] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah, it has been. It's been fun though. I feel like I am the kind of person who needs to be pretty busy.
[00:02:27] Rob Pintwala: I, I can relate to that. Absolutely. And I initially reached out because Yeah, I saw that you were completing your Master's in counseling program, which as far as my experience is kind of the, one of the main programs to become a counselor or a therapist, at least in Canada. Is that your intention or do you not know yet?
[00:02:45] Rob Pintwala: Like how's that going for you?
[00:02:48] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah, so the program that I'm in and most others like master's counseling programs, that is what you need to register with, like the provincial body 'cause it's provincially regulated [00:03:00] in Canada. So yeah, the goal is to become RCC, which is a registered I. Clinical counselor when I graduate. And I think I would like to do private practice.
[00:03:10] Annie MacIntosh: I definitely wanna be a therapist and like to work in that capacity. I think yeah, just some experience in playing around into more specifically what type of therapy and work I wanna do. I'm excited for that part, but yeah, definitely working as a therapist is the goal.
[00:03:25] Rob Pintwala: That's exciting. That's super exciting. I. Find myself now knowing, like over a thousand therapists since I started this company. So, I can say that every therapist I've met is like deep down, a really well intentioned, like good person. And it's been a really good journey on my side. So, what led you uh, like you're doing marketing for your core role right now and you're freelancing and you're a content creator online on social media.
[00:03:52] Rob Pintwala: What, when did you start thinking about going back to school to do counseling? I
[00:03:58] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah, I mean I.
[00:03:59] Annie MacIntosh: I think it was [00:04:00] kind of a culmination of a bunch of different factors. I've always been really interested in psychology and mental health. I have a BSC in psychology from University. And right after I graduated I was definitely, I. Kind of on the track of applying to grad school to do my PhD in psychology.
[00:04:17] Annie MacIntosh: I wrote the GRE and everything and I was pretty set on that. And then ended up working in a research capacity for a psychology clinic and just really didn't love that experience very much. I think what I resonated with the most was connecting with people and that aspect of it instead of the research.
[00:04:36] Annie MacIntosh: So that was a bit of a redirection and then. . Yeah, I've, I kind of always had to balance these two interests of art and creativity and photography with the academic side. And I just kind of got pulled into this world of traveling and photography and social media, and I really loved it. And I love the connections that you form with people.
[00:04:57] Annie MacIntosh: And I think it just, it just kind of felt like a time, and [00:05:00] I'm 27, almost 27 now, where I just kind of felt like I was ready for a change. I want something like that, you know, I can really dive in and have my career for a long time and that I feel very fulfilled by. And I think, yeah, that was kind of what inspired the going back to school part while also kind of juggling this other side of
[00:05:22] Annie MacIntosh: my identity.
[00:05:24] Rob Pintwala: Very cool. I definitely
[00:05:27] Rob Pintwala: want to dive into the counseling area. And maybe before we do that, and this is something that I've been talking to quite a few past guests about who have a presence on social media like a significant presence and yeah, knowing what you know now, like in your schooling and also just.
[00:05:48] Rob Pintwala: You said you've always had an interest in psychology, like how have you approached kind of building your personal brand online with the knowledge of, you know, [00:06:00] psychology and like, how have you approached that from a mental health perspective in terms of making sure that your mental health is okay?
[00:06:08] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah, I mean, that's a great question. I think for my personal page and like my own kind of personal content that I create, a big value of mine has been authenticity. I think that there's a lot of, I. Upward comparison and just kind of really tough imagery out there that portrays not very realistic lifestyles or people, or even yeah, just like faces and bodies.
[00:06:35] Annie MacIntosh: So it's always been super important to me to kind of not be a part of that problem as much as I can be. And then in doing so, I think that. Makes me feel better about myself. But yeah it's a tough world out there for sure. I think like so many people are using social media right now and we know that it can be hugely impactful in your wellbeing.
[00:06:59] Annie MacIntosh: [00:07:00] And you take in a lot of content all the time. So I think just as a user kind of mitigating your own risk by managing your time on social media and who you follow, and then as a creator, just being very mindful of . The kind of content that you're putting out into the world and just making sure that it's with a do no harm kind of perspective.
[00:07:22] Rob Pintwala: Yeah, I like that. I like that. Is there anything that most folks wouldn't see that, you know, I'm thinking like comments and like dms or, you know, just like really like, have you had to build up some sort of resilience or boundaries or like, you know, what are the hardest parts of having kind of such a large kind of, I guess, open following like a public following rather.
[00:07:50] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah, I mean, I've been very fortunate in that I, I have not experienced cyberbullying personally, which is lucky because I [00:08:00] think it does happen to a lot of folks who show up online the way that I do. definitely, like as a woman on social media, I don't believe that this is exclusive to somebody who has a large following, honestly.
[00:08:11] Annie MacIntosh: But like I've gotten. A number of pretty horrible dms privately from men that are just like, like super inappropriate. But I, I would say that that's honestly probably like the worst kind of one-on-One direct interaction that I've had online has just been discomfort
[00:08:33] Annie MacIntosh: and it's pretty manageable 'cause you can just delete a dm.
[00:08:35] Rob Pintwala: Yeah, sadly that
[00:08:37] Rob Pintwala: this sounds like par for the course. it's really sad that's the case, like, oh my
[00:08:41] Annie MacIntosh: I know. And it is just kind of one of those things that just happens and it's, I think it's almost impossible to avoid, unfortunately,
[00:08:48] Rob Pintwala: Right.
[00:08:49] Annie MacIntosh: right now.
[00:08:51] Rob Pintwala: and I also wanted to Yeah, ask you about your love for nature and like I know a lot [00:09:00] of your content is around. Just being outside and camping and exploring and that sort of thing, which is incredible. Especially I'm a, I'm also, I'm living on Vancouver Island now as of about
[00:09:12] Rob Pintwala: a little over a year ago and from Ontario.
[00:09:15] Rob Pintwala: So that's an amazing accessible benefit to those of us living out here, or even just in Canada. It's usually pretty accessible, but yeah. How has your relationship with nature evolved over time and like, what do you get out of spending time in nature?
[00:09:31] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah. That's a great question. I, so I grew up on the west coast. I grew up on a really small island called Bowan Island, which is just off of West Vancouver. And I . I just feel very fortunate to have been in a community and in an area where I was very much surrounded by natural outdoors for a lot of my childhood, and it just became like a very integral part of who I am and part of my self-identity and that I had a family growing up [00:10:00] that spent a lot of time in the outdoors and taught me a lot of skills that allowed me to kind of push myself in the outdoors.
[00:10:07] Annie MacIntosh: And build that community of people who wanna be in nature. When I moved out from home and when I moved to Vancouver Island, for example, for school or back in Vancouver those skills and that passion and aspect of my self-identity just really stayed with me. And I think that, yeah, it's just, it feels like being outside and the need to be outside and spend time in nature is.
[00:10:32] Annie MacIntosh: Kind of part of who I am at this point, and I just find it very therapeutic and healing and yeah, it's just a great source of community and joy for me.
[00:10:44] Rob Pintwala: I love that. I'm huge, I love Bow Island. I got to spend a lot of time there when I
[00:10:48] Annie MacIntosh: Well, I'm glad you visited. It's very small
[00:10:51] Rob Pintwala: Oh, it's got the best
[00:10:52] Rob Pintwala: vibe and It's so close to the bigger city. Yeah.
[00:10:54] Annie MacIntosh: yeah.
[00:10:56] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Yeah. It's inspiring to see
[00:10:58] Rob Pintwala: just like, [00:11:00] just these beautiful images and videos of just like, I don't know, just the whole west coast.
[00:11:04] Rob Pintwala: Like I can't wait to explore more up north on the island and on this sunshine coast and that sort of thing. So yeah. I'm super lucky to live here. Yeah. And so, just like the language you're using and things like your identity and you know, parts of your identity and things like that. Like, I'm kind of a therapy obsessed person myself and done quite a bit of therapy myself, and I like almost minored in psychology, but I just, you just couldn't quite get the grades that I wanted.
[00:11:29] Rob Pintwala: So I've really got nothing to show for it on paper, but, you know, like where did this kind of language come from? Like have you done a lot of self-exploration over the years? Like have you done a lot of therapy over the years? Counseling, like how, yeah. What can you share about that?
[00:11:46] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah. You know what? It's interesting because I don't have a very. Storied history of regular therapy. I've definitely been to therapy and have found it very valuable. I think that [00:12:00] language, a, just having the tools in my back pocket to be able to apply it to myself has probably come from studying psychology.
[00:12:08] Annie MacIntosh: I think that has definitely helped. I think naturally, I'm just like a pretty introspective person. I do a lot of writing, I do a lot of journaling. I find that it's very helpful for me to kind of understand my own emotions and self through writing. And I think that a lot of that language kind of comes out when I put it on paper.
[00:12:32] Annie MacIntosh: So that's, I think that is kind of where it comes from. definitely the more I learn in school, the more that you kind of develop this eagerness to apply it to yourself. I think all humans are like that. We wanna, you know, . Make it about us a little bit, but it's helpful, right? Like it's helpful to have the tools and the language to just to know more about yourself and how you wanna show up in the world.
[00:12:57] Rob Pintwala: Yeah, absolutely. You've been quite [00:13:00] open about your experience with depression. Living with depression is, I think, how you phrase it.
[00:13:06] Rob Pintwala: And yeah, as someone myself who's experienced.
[00:13:09] Rob Pintwala: Several years of depression where I felt really stuck. And also kind of shifted, I guess I am kind of assuming here, but also kinda shifted my to, to kind of trying to relinquish the control of, you know, over my state of mind.
[00:13:26] Rob Pintwala: Right. And I think that was kind of freeing for me. This was about 10 years ago. I, yeah, I'm curious. I have so many questions about your experience with depression that we'll see where this goes, but even just like your language of saying, you know, living with depression, like how did you arrive at that kind of verbiage and I know a lot of folks might say, I have depression, or I am depressed, or whatever.
[00:13:49] Rob Pintwala: Like, how do you, why do you choose those words like living with depression?
[00:13:54] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah, I mean I do think that the language has shifted in the past few years [00:14:00] surrounding just for a lot of these disorders, I mean particularly, for example for folks with living with personality disorders, you might say, this is a person living with BPD, like. Borderline personality disorder instead of this person is borderline, or this person has borderline.
[00:14:19] Annie MacIntosh: And I think that it just kind of allows you to separate this mental disorder, this monkey on your back from being intrinsically a part of you, and instead, it's something that just kind of walks along beside you. It doesn't have to be tethered to your identity. It doesn't have to be all of you. It's something that's with you and you can talk to it and relate to it and take a break from it as well.
[00:14:47] Annie MacIntosh: And I think that language is really important in the way that we talk about ourselves and our relationships and our life and just, it's just a small difference. But I do think that it does impact how we [00:15:00] relate to these diseases and how we feel and just kind of how we think about ourselves.
[00:15:06] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Yeah, I think it, it's like, you know, literally on paper it seems like a . Small difference, but
[00:15:11] Rob Pintwala: I view it as a pretty huge difference myself. And you, so when you say that the language has changed, do you mean like in academia, like in the kind of teachings of psychology and psychotherapy or personally, like your language or both?
[00:15:32] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah, I think I've noticed it socially for sure. I think that it is kind of developing into mainstream discussions about mental health. People are saying living with or this with. Yeah. And then in practice, I think that it's shifting as well. I think that people do. It's related to that language shift and it's almost imperceptible, but I do think it is important and it's definitely not like a [00:16:00] black or white thing.
[00:16:00] Annie MacIntosh: Like it's not wrong to say one or the other, but that's just a shift that I personally Yeah. Identified with and liked and have used ever since.
[00:16:08] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Yeah. No I, I'm, I'm the same. Uh, Viewpoint as well. And I, yeah, sometimes, I mean, I know that a
[00:16:15] Rob Pintwala: lot of folks can get so much kind of relief when, if there is like a diagnosis of some sort that they it can be kind of freeing for a lot of folks who might be so, lost in how they're feeling and secluded and alone.
[00:16:31] Rob Pintwala: But I also know that like, it can really become. The cornerstone of a lot of folks' identities if they identify with a mental disorder. Like I know a lot of folks are like putting it on their social media profiles and things like that. Right. And I think,
[00:16:46] Rob Pintwala: You know, and trying not to judge that, but
[00:16:48] Rob Pintwala: it, sort of, it just seems like that then becomes so much real, more real and more static almost in a way.
[00:16:58] Rob Pintwala: Right. Where. [00:17:00] I think, yeah, it's a, it can be really freeing, but it can also be restrictive at the same time. What are your thoughts on that?
[00:17:06] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah, I mean, I think everyone processes these experiences differently and finds solace in a diagnosis. Or frustration in one. I think for me it was definitely the former, like it, it's relieving to have an explanation for the way that you feel often. I think that, and it opens up resources, which is great.
[00:17:27] Annie MacIntosh: But I do feel that there is kind of a fine line between, you know, understanding the disorder and using that title too . Yeah, just to open up tools that you can use to improve your life and enhance your wellbeing, versus identifying with it to the point of, you know, you're kind of down a rabbit hole of feeling like you're stuck with it.
[00:17:53] Annie MacIntosh: And I think that is just a balance of whatever feels right to you, but it's important to remember that [00:18:00] there . Life is vast and varied and multifaceted , and there is no one singular identifier for a person. And it's certainly not your mental health
[00:18:12] Annie MacIntosh: forever, at least, you know.
[00:18:14] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Yeah. I love that.
[00:18:15] Rob Pintwala: I love that approach. I think a lot about how people approach. Getting help or getting resources or I guess even just the concept of like personal work, work on oneself,
[00:18:31] Rob Pintwala: That is kind of where my company lives in that space. And I find that depression in particular is really challenging because of the nature of depression being so draining and so, yeah, un like you're just so unmotivated, right. I remember like, even my experience with therapy really didn't, like, I had a bunch of like, single sessions and maybe a handful of like, sessions here and there. And until [00:19:00] I, after I started the first session, this company that I have is when I like, spent two years in therapy and did a lot of stuff, and now I'm looking for my next therapist.
[00:19:08] Rob Pintwala: But you know, I think people who are depressed, like how. How would you almost describe what it's like and like if someone's feeling depressed for the first time or like it's getting worse for the first time what might you say as far as how to, you know, what can you do to try to get out of it in your experience?
[00:19:36] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah, I mean it varies by individual for sure, and depression can take on a lot of forms. I know for me personally, . How it's often manifested is more physically than emotionally. Some people can have, you know, persistent negative thoughts and feel really sad and [00:20:00] be very teary. And my experience, I.
[00:20:03] Annie MacIntosh: Personally has been more of a deep physical exhaustion and lack of motivation and what we kind of call anhedonia, like just feeling very flat affect, and that is not some like, that's absolutely not my normal. Way of showing up in the world. It feels very foreign to me to feel that way. So when I'm feeling depressed, it's like, it feels awful, right?
[00:20:31] Annie MacIntosh: And it's very obvious to me that that's the way, that's where I'm at. But yeah I, I like, I was introduced to this kind of little model called like the red light model when I was, I think I was 18 or something. But it was a very helpful tool and it's great . Activity to do as an individual of, you know, looking at green, yellow, red light.
[00:20:54] Annie MacIntosh: And if you're at your green light, you're doing great, things are going smoothly, you're feeling good, [00:21:00] and it's a good reflection to reflect on what do I feel when I'm in the green zone? What does my life look like? What do my daily activities look like? What am I doing? Yellow zone is . Maybe I'm sliding towards being in a depressive episode or sliding towards burnout or sliding towards, you know, something that is gonna be more drastic and scary and I'm recognizing that.
[00:21:26] Annie MacIntosh: And what are the first kind of signs for me personally that show up when I'm heading towards, you know, the sign that something isn't gonna be very good. And for me it's like. I slowly start to lose interest in activities. I may not wanna hang out with friends as much. My appetite changes, things like that.
[00:21:48] Annie MacIntosh: And the whole idea is to just be able to recognize when you're in these stages. So when you are in like the red light zone, they say, which is when, for me personally, that's a full to depressive episode. [00:22:00] The idea is to be able to put in interventions to get out, to get back to green as soon as you can. And I think that it is personal.
[00:22:08] Annie MacIntosh: Like you can look at a biopsychosocial model. Like what can you change in your environment biologically that will help you feel better? Can you exercise dopamine release from exercise is huge. It's been shown to be just as effective as SSRIs, if not more in some studies. Are you completing tasks that make you feel good physically?
[00:22:28] Annie MacIntosh: Are you showering? Are you eating enough? Are you sticking to, you know, good sleep hygiene psychology? Can you go see a therapist? Can you see your friends? Can you talk it out? Can you journal? Can you reflect on these things? And then socially, it's so important to just look at the social environment that you have around you.
[00:22:46] Annie MacIntosh: One of my favorite Freud quotes is before you diagnose yourself with depression. Make sure that you're not surrounded by assholes , which I think is great, but just like really leveraging your social [00:23:00] circle and the people around you and making sure you're safe in your relationships and yeah, just leaning into connection is huge.
[00:23:10] Annie MacIntosh: So that's kind of like, yeah, the model that I use to first notice where I'm at in my kind of mental health. And then b, interject at wherever step I am in order to
[00:23:24] Annie MacIntosh: kind of get to a better place, hopefully.
[00:23:27] Rob Pintwala: Yeah, I
[00:23:28] Rob Pintwala: love that. I love that because it doesn't seem super scientific or like, it seems fairly, you know, you don't have to be like, I don't know, journaling every single day or like, you know, wearing all these monitors or whatever. You know, it's just kind of a reflection that can help you and just those three, three lights I'm curious about. You know, I think this is like, I don't know personally, I think like the worst part of [00:24:00] my depression in order to fully I mean, it took me kinda years to get, I guess fully out of that zone. But I tried so hard to control and like, I would like to sprint on the treadmill even though like, I, you know, I was like. I think it was a lot of like, anxiety combined, but like I would just try to like, fight my way out of it
[00:24:21] Rob Pintwala: And,
[00:24:22] Rob Pintwala: Was just the interest levels and the, you know, like
[00:24:25] Rob Pintwala: not wanting to smile, not wanting to be social, like kind of that disconnecting feeling, which I now I know a lot of, you know, therapists say it kind of like just builds on itself, like these things and
[00:24:35] Rob Pintwala: The more that you hide away, the worse it's gonna get.
[00:24:38] Rob Pintwala: So,
[00:24:39] Rob Pintwala: but yeah. So fighting like it seemed to kind of, it just got so exhausting and wasn't fully helping. And then yeah, at one point I was like, well, I just changed my mindset to it, my relationship to it, and maybe it's not fully in my control. And maybe I'll actually, I think at this point I was feeling a little bit better, but maybe I am not in control of how [00:25:00] I'm gonna feel.
[00:25:00] Rob Pintwala: Maybe one day I'll be depressed. And I do believe that now still that like, you know, this could, things could turn darker for me. And there's something freeing about that. And in it, it almost sounds suppressing to say that, but at the same time it's like there's something freeing about it that relinquishes you from the like key to your own mood.
[00:25:24] Rob Pintwala: I don't know if that is relatable at all. But at the same time, I think there's so many other things, environment, people, food, sleep, exercise that are. It Has been really great for me at least. And I guess my question for you is that with this kind of green light, yellow light, red light model and sounds like you, I think you said you were 18 when that first kind of came on your radar, do you notice like less, like, have you sort of like gotten better I guess at noticing and like [00:26:00] trying to prevent or trying to intervene?
[00:26:02] Rob Pintwala: Or has that not been the case? Can it some, like, has it been just kind of evolving up and down over the years? Like are you better at catching yourself early and then kind of intervening? Or can it sometimes just go the other way?
[00:26:18] Annie MacIntosh: The answer is, yes. I'm definitely better at noticing and being . Being aware of my mental state and sometimes I can catch myself before I slide into that. I definitely have had like a few years of not having a full on depressive episode. And I think part of that, you know, was, learning about those states and how to kind of
[00:26:46] Annie MacIntosh: maximize my wellbeing with the tools that I have. Part of it was, medication was really huge for me. But you're right. Like you cannot control your brain and you can't control your life. [00:27:00] And that's, you know, the same for people who live with depression or not. Life is very unpredictable.
[00:27:06] Annie MacIntosh: It's stressful, it's hard. There's gonna be . Trauma and crises and grief. And if your brain naturally doesn't, you know, have the same chemical balance as someone who's neurotypical, that can make it a lot harder. And I do think that there is a lot of power in just surrendering to being a human and an animal and giving yourself grace and patience and kindness and, you know, acknowledging that.
[00:27:38] Annie MacIntosh: For everyone, but particularly me at this moment with what I'm going through. I cannot snap my fingers and change it. And the very best thing that I can do is just, you know, all I can do is my best at this minute, this second, this hour. Maybe my best is getting outta bed. Maybe my best is calling my mom
[00:27:59] Annie MacIntosh: [00:28:00] You know? And that's okay. And it does not last forever. It won't. And I think that is the sole source of, you know, hope that sometimes you can grab onto is just acknowledging, Hey, I can't change this right now. This feels like crap, but it's not gonna feel this way forever. And all I have to do is just put one foot in front of the other at whatever speed that I can at this moment.
[00:28:27] Annie MacIntosh: And I think that sometimes that just has to be enough. It's hard to get to the mindset where you are extending the same kindness to yourself as you do to others. When you're in a state like that, it's very difficult to really, truly believe that when you're telling yourself that.
[00:28:46] Rob Pintwala: That's very wise. That's very wise. That's amazing. I'm curious if you'd be willing to chat a little bit more about your experience with starting medication and how you approached that.[00:29:00] you know, there's a lot of different opinions on medication and a lot of different experiences and Oftentimes, I know it can make people feel worse. So I'm curious how your period of starting medication went and how you got to the point of getting some relief if that was easy or difficult or somewhere in between.
[00:29:22] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah, so I was in university and I was having my first real kind of prolonged period of depression ever and it was very scary. And I was really lucky to have a great one. Female doctor at the campus clinic who I've seen throughout the year, and it did. She had been suggesting medication for a long time for me, and I was very resistant to it.
[00:29:50] Annie MacIntosh: I didn't like the idea of taking medication. I was embarrassed. I was frustrated that it might be something that I would [00:30:00] have to do and I really didn't want to even think about it. It kind of got to a point for me where I felt like I had been trying everything and I, it just didn't feel like it was working and I just needed to try something because it was absolutely unsustainable the way that I was feeling.
[00:30:16] Annie MacIntosh: So my experience with medication has personally been good. I take an SSRI, I've been on SSRIs for like four years now. And I've, I'm on a lower dose than I was when I started. I don't know if I'll be on them forever. It would be nice to not be, but if they continue to, you know, make me feel better, then I'm not gonna go off them.
[00:30:39] Annie MacIntosh: I think medication, you know, like if you had a heart disease and you were in immense pain and there was medication that could help you with that. Why would you not take it, you know? And it's the same with medications that help stabilize your brain chemistry in a way that's a little bit more normal and allows you to move through life [00:31:00] the way that you should be.
[00:31:01] Annie MacIntosh: That being said, you know, SSRIs are, I think they're, they're only effective for like 40% of people, like less than half. So . You know, it doesn't always work. And that's really frustrating. And I do think that there is kind of an endemic problem in our medical system where, you know, doctors are not trained or they don't have the bandwidth to go over a holistic strategy for mental health with people.
[00:31:28] Annie MacIntosh: And that is often the first line of defense. And I personally don't feel that it should be you know, as I was saying, like exercise. Multiple studies have shown that exercise can be just as effective as medication for people with depression.
[00:31:43] Rob Pintwala: Yeah.
[00:31:43] Annie MacIntosh: And that was never suggested to me by a doctor once , you know, it's an important conversation.
[00:31:51] Annie MacIntosh: Medication doesn't work for everyone but it is, it's a tool in the arsenal that is effective for some people. So I wouldn't completely disregard it either.[00:32:00]
[00:32:01] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. No, I just, I noticed that your approach to this is I mean, it just comes with so much kind of, I. Imagine kind of like self-advocacy or just education and I mean, I see a lot of that with people in our generation. But like when speaking with parents or my parents for example, you know, I think there's, I think in our generation there's a lot less just one directional, like taking the doctor's orders kind of thing.
[00:32:30] Rob Pintwala: And maybe that's because the system looks different these days than it did a generation ago. I just, what I kind of hear you say is that it's so important to sort of bring your own knowledge and research and awareness in, like with exercise. Like me, I see that in the UK they've been prescribing exercise, you know, for a long time.
[00:32:53] Annie MacIntosh: I, so I love that.
[00:32:54] Rob Pintwala: And you know, that's still not happening here. And,
[00:32:57] Rob Pintwala: you know, I think people here and part of my job [00:33:00] has been Trying to dis un confuse people around the differences around like, what's a psychiatrist or a psychologist or a psychotherapist or a counselor or a social worker or a doctor, you know, and like, who can prescribe and who can't.
[00:33:12] Rob Pintwala: And then like, looking at those professions and like, are some of them covered? Are some of them not? You know, and it's just the education I guess is not. As far as I know, it is provided in the regular education system, like in elementary school or in high school, I think.
[00:33:32] Rob Pintwala: Right. So
[00:33:33] Rob Pintwala: I think it's easy for a lot of people just to call their family doctor or many people don't have family doctors. Go to a clinic, explain your symptoms, whether that's depression or anxiety or something else. And then the system. Really can only just write a prescription. Right? And then a lot of those don't work, or a lot of them might have negative side effects.
[00:33:55] Rob Pintwala: So yeah, I think just having these conversations and just like [00:34:00] people they almost like to push to be their own advocate if they're able to Right. And do their own research which I know is a lot. Kinda difficult sometimes too because, you know, Googling a lot of therapists will say, don't Google your symptoms or doctors.
[00:34:16] Rob Pintwala: Right. So, yeah, no, I think that's, I think that's amazing. But,
[00:34:19] Rob Pintwala: So back to your kind of interest in becoming a therapist. Was there any particular experiences or therapist that you worked with that inspired you to go on this path? Or is it how did you end up doing your
[00:34:33] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah.
[00:34:34] Annie MacIntosh: You know, I don't know if there was a specific moment or person where . The light went on and I thought, ha, I wanna do this. I think that just as a person I think I've always known that I wanted to be in a helping field. That was very clear to me. Just like personally, I found that I.
[00:34:55] Annie MacIntosh: Was something that I really resonated with and I found a lot of fulfillment from. I [00:35:00] volunteered kind of in like mental health, helping capacities through high school and university and best buddies and mental health teams, and just really focused on connecting with people and, I think empathy has been a very core value of mine and I just, it was just something that just kind of clicked and felt good and yeah, I don't know.
[00:35:24] Annie MacIntosh: It's just, it's always been something that I've been interested in and I think that there are obviously other fields and professions that, you know, do similar things and they could have been or would be equally . Rewarding. But I'm really excited too, I love what I'm learning. I'm excited to graduate and start working and yeah, it's definitely a cool field.
[00:35:47] Annie MacIntosh: There's a lot you can do with it.
[00:35:49] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. I've I often intermittently consider going back to school for counseling or some PhD, but,
[00:35:56] Rob Pintwala: I'm, you know, constantly trying to read or listen to
[00:35:58] Rob Pintwala: podcasts and learning. [00:36:00] So, I also wanted to ask you about your kind of. Writing, I guess, about your mental health, your depression I think you referenced that you like to feel very deeply and like sometimes you wish you didn't.
[00:36:17] Rob Pintwala: I wonder if you could kind of elaborate on that and how you kind of, I guess feeling deeply kind of makes sense when you, when a lot of other people maybe not feel it. Deeply or apparently not feel as deeply. So how did you kind of, I guess, come to that kind of conclusion or that you might feel deeply relative to others?
[00:36:42] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah, I mean, I think, like I can remember being a kid and being told by my parents that I was like a deep feeler . You know? I think I was just very emotive and I have a very, very hard time hiding the way that I'm feeling. I've [00:37:00] always been somebody who cries at something beautiful. Just like quick to feel big emotions and resonate with things and find things important and
[00:37:12] Annie MacIntosh: Feels just like a lot of empathy or pain on behalf of other people or situations. And that can be really tough. I remember even in love, I think I was a teenager in one of my first relationships when my first boyfriend was like, you feel too much . You know, it's just, it's difficult when people don't understand that.
[00:37:31] Annie MacIntosh: That's kind of like you're, you just respond to the world. You're a very responsive person. And I do think that. You know, we're not all so different. But I, we have different ways of manifesting those emotions and processing them and deciding how much they mean to us, whether subconsciously or consciously.
[00:37:52] Annie MacIntosh: But yeah, I just, I think that it's a blessing to be able to feel things so deeply [00:38:00] overall because
[00:38:02] Annie MacIntosh: it creates meaning.
[00:38:03] Rob Pintwala: . Yeah. I'm a
[00:38:04] Rob Pintwala: huge, I guess follower or fan of Dr. Gab mate. I know he is very popular these days, but I know he is also from Vancouver or
[00:38:14] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah.
[00:38:15] Rob Pintwala: there. And I really like his viewpoint of. Looking like a predisposition for mental health challenges. I won't say mental illness here, but being predicated on a sensitivity like index almost.
[00:38:32] Rob Pintwala: So like
[00:38:33] Rob Pintwala: how people vary in their sensitivity, but you know, that sort of has a correlation with, you know, others. Mental health challenges. Yeah, and I can definitely relate to that myself as well. And some of my family members as well. And yeah. Just curious how you are . I imagine you, you're in line with that way of thinking too.
[00:38:57] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah, for sure. I remember taking [00:39:00] like a psychology of wellbeing course when I was . And my last year of university, and there's this theory called The Orchid Theory by David Dobbs. He's actually a geneticist, but he, it's this idea that, you know, the genes that predispose people to be sensitive. 'cause the ideas of orchids are sensitive.
[00:39:21] Annie MacIntosh: Plants, right? They require care and nurturing. And there's this idea that kids with predisposition to be sensitive and, you know, maybe have a bit of anxiety or depression or, you know, a predisposition for more troubling human behaviors in the right environment and with the right support, you know, those predispositions can also end up being some of the best and most beautiful attributes of those people too.
[00:39:50] Annie MacIntosh: You know, a child who's predisposed to be very anxious or maybe depressed in a nurturing environment in which they feel safe and, you know, aligned [00:40:00] with their identity and confident can grow up to be a feeler and a deeply creative person and have a lot of empathy and use those emotions in a really positive way.
[00:40:11] Annie MacIntosh: So, yeah I, I love that theory. I love how science-based it is. And I think it's just like a good way of looking at, you know, just because you interact with the world in a maybe a deeply passionate way that might be different from others, doesn't mean that's a bad thing. Like it can be a strength.
[00:40:30] Rob Pintwala: Yeah, I love how you seem to just kind of lean into that and I know like when your boyfriend at the time kind of said like, you don't, you know, don't feel so much
[00:40:40] Rob Pintwala: or don't, you know, I imagine a lot of others. People who feel deeply
[00:40:43] Rob Pintwala: or more sensitive or you know, have a similar experience. And I know I used to be like that when I was younger too.
[00:40:50] Rob Pintwala: And you almost, if you're told to not feel deeply, then you'll, you're gonna feel like you're not allowed to feel right. And that presents other challenges. Did [00:41:00] you, did it take some time for you to kind of lean into the fact that you are someone who feels deeply like how if, like, if someone is. Feels like they're unrelatable to their circle around them because they're a sensitive person. Like what would you say to them? As far as,
[00:41:18] Rob Pintwala: yeah,
[00:41:19] Rob Pintwala: like getting outta that kind of trap or.
[00:41:21] Annie MacIntosh: I mean, I think I definitely am not out of the trap by any means. Yeah, I think that it's just, it's about giving, it's, I just, I keep saying giving yourself grace, but I just think it's so important to just be nice to yourself and when people are told, you know, as you were mentioning, like the way that you are feeling isn't correct.
[00:41:43] Annie MacIntosh: It only enhances the shame that people experience and shame is so toxic and . You know, it's just psychologically and physically it's just a really horrible thing for people to carry. And I just think it's so deeply important [00:42:00] to learn to release the shame and just practice radical acceptance of who we are and who others are.
[00:42:08] Annie MacIntosh: And, you know, move away from the black and white thinking that one way of perceiving the world and emoting is the right way. Because it's just not the case, and it's complicated. It makes the world infinitely more complicated in being a human. Much more difficult, but it's true.
[00:42:26] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Yeah, that's what I, well, well put. I've had a lot of therapists that I've interviewed. Just through observation, like kind of a lot of what therapy is, or I think almost the core purpose of therapy is learning how to be kind to yourself
[00:42:42] Rob Pintwala: I think some people, most people have a
[00:42:46] Rob Pintwala: really difficult time with that.
[00:42:47] Rob Pintwala: And it needs to be something that you learn and there's this voice that you can't get rid of and might not even be your voice. It might be someone else's voice. So, yeah, no, I think it's so beautifully put. So where are you at with your schooling and [00:43:00] uh, what's kind of the next year look like for you?
[00:43:03] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah, so I still have a couple courses left and then the . Bulk of the eight months, the final eight months of my degree, are practicum. So, to register with the RCC in designation in BC you have to have a. Certain number of supervised practicum hours from a registered psychologist or counselor. So yeah, it's gonna be eight months of that just gaining hands-on experience, which I'm really looking forward to.
[00:43:36] Annie MacIntosh: I think that will be great. But yeah, right now I'm in full course load work. I'm in a crisis and trauma course and an ethics course.
[00:43:45] Annie MacIntosh: those fun ones.
[00:43:47] Rob Pintwala: Nice. That sounds
[00:43:48] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah.
[00:43:49] Rob Pintwala: very exhilarating, but also dreadful.
[00:43:52] Rob Pintwala: School is not my favorite thing. So,
[00:43:55] Annie MacIntosh: I know it's been a bit of a, a bit of a shock to go back to school after, I'm trying [00:44:00] to think, a four year break. Three year break,
[00:44:02] Annie MacIntosh: suddenly have to submit essays and deadlines on Sunday nights and
[00:44:07] Annie MacIntosh: things like that. For sure.
[00:44:09] Rob Pintwala: goodness. Yeah.
[00:44:10] Rob Pintwala: Well, yeah, I know like even in the business world, like a lot of people like teams, HR teams really value that degree as well, like master's in counseling and see more like . Former counselors become like heads of people or something. So yeah, it's really like, there's so much to do there.
[00:44:28] Rob Pintwala: So yeah. Props to you for going through that. That's amazing. And
[00:44:32] Annie MacIntosh: Thank
[00:44:33] Rob Pintwala: yeah. Any, anything else on your plate
[00:44:35] Rob Pintwala: or that you.
[00:44:36] Rob Pintwala: wanna share, happening in the next, you know, six to 12 months for you?
[00:44:40] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah, not really any big plans coming up. I've definitely kind of focused the next number of months really deeply on finishing my degree. It's been pretty full on for me. But yeah, I think for me, the focus is just gonna be on [00:45:00] reaching those goals and, you know, also finding time to travel and keep up with my freelance work, which I find really valuable and pays the bills and, you know, it's an important part of my life too.
[00:45:11] Annie MacIntosh: So it's just kind of managing that as things shift and grow.
[00:45:17] Rob Pintwala: I love that. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. And finally, where can people find you? Online.
[00:45:25] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah. I would say probably my most active location right now is my Instagram page, which is Annie Macintosh. Annie with two E's. So I think that's probably, yeah, where I'm at the most. I'm also on TikTok. I have a website, but I'm not very active on it right now. But yeah, it can always be reached on my Instagram, my email's up on that page as well.
[00:45:46] Rob Pintwala: Amazing.
[00:45:46] Annie MacIntosh: so yeah,
[00:45:48] Rob Pintwala: Yeah, thank you. I'm sure not too long in the future,
[00:45:50] Rob Pintwala: you'll, you'll be on a, some counseling website, whether it's your own or at a group practice. So I'm sure folks
[00:45:55] Annie MacIntosh: That's the goal.
[00:45:57] Rob Pintwala: Awesome. Well, thank you so much Annie, and I hope you have a great
[00:45:59] Rob Pintwala: [00:46:00] rest of your day and a weekend ahead.
[00:46:01] Annie MacIntosh: Yeah.
[00:46:01] Annie MacIntosh: Thank you so much for having me. It was great to chat.
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