Trigger warning: In this episode, we will be discussing thoughts of suicide, which may be distressing for some listeners. If you or someone you know is struggling with these feelings, please seek help from a mental health professional or a crisis helpline. Listener discretion is advised. 

Mary-Lyn Kieffer is the Director of Made of Millions Canada, a mental health charity, she’s also the Senior Manager for Togetherall, a peer-to-peer mental health platform. 

In this episode, we discuss Mary-Lyn’s personal experience with OCD, intrusive thoughts, and panic attacks. We also chat about her coping strategies and what really worked for her. 

“We can change what we believe in about anything in life and that's including ourselves.” - Mary-Lyn Kieffer 


Mary-Lyn Kieffer on LinkedIn 

Made of Millions


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[00:00:00] Rob Pintwala: Mary Lynn is a director of Made of Millions Canada, a mental health charity. She's also the senior manager for Together All, a peer to peer mental health platform. In this episode, we discuss Mary Lynn's personal experience with OCD, intrusive thoughts, and panic attacks. We also chat about Mary Lynn's journey to recovery and what things helped her the most in her journey.

[00:01:40] Rob Pintwala: We also discuss what it means for Mary Lynn to work and volunteer in the area of mental health and the benefits of giving back and aligning your values with your work. I hope you enjoy this episode with Mary Lynn Kiefer.

[00:01:51] Rob Pintwala: Hi, Marilyn. Thank you so much for joining me this afternoon.

[00:01:54] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Thank you. Nice to be here.

[00:01:56] Rob Pintwala: We were just chatting before we hit record and I [00:02:00] believe that we met likely before COVID and I attended one of your organization's talks. I think it was at Shopify and I was really intrigued by the conversation and then I looked up your organization or now one of your organizations made millions.

[00:02:18] Rob Pintwala: I just thought it was such an incredible company, communicating, really valuable. Information about how to be a manager as a company, how to help recognize mental health, you know, in your employees and in your culture. And, you know, I probably just did a terrible job explaining it. But that's how we got connected.

[00:02:41] Rob Pintwala: And recently yeah, I saw that you're working with another mental health company. And I know you have a lot of lived experience. So very excited to chat with you today. And to get started, I just wanted to ask, You know, where are you at now, personally and professionally, and maybe we can just [00:03:00] go from there.

[00:03:00] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Yeah, sure. So yeah, we met, I think it was in 2019. I think it was like either May or October because we held a couple of events at Shopify. And yeah, it was when Made of Millions was just starting to get into the workplace and trying to put out some good content to help managers, etc. So, but yeah, we can get into that.

[00:03:21] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: But where I am now, so I am still involved with made a millions their mental health charity, and then I full time work for a company called together all, which is essentially a peer to peer support. platform that's monitored 24 seven by licensed clinicians. And yeah, so it's really great that I have been able to work in this space for, I guess, the last three or four years. Because, as you mentioned, from my personal experience, I was diagnosed with OCD obsessive compulsive disorder back in 2017. And through [00:04:00] kind of discovering. What it was that I was dealing with, not having a name for what I was dealing with, it became pretty quick for me to realize that, you know, I really needed to change career paths and to do something that was more meaningful to me.

[00:04:18] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: And because of my own experience going through the system, I realized that there really were a lot of gaps in the mental health system here in Canada. And so it was kind of a no brainer in terms of seeing a lot of opportunity and yeah, deciding to go in that direction. So fast forward to now I'm still, you know, in the same space.

[00:04:40] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: I'm still really enjoying it. I still see that there's a lot more that needs to be done. And yeah, I don't know that. I still don't know if I still have OCD. I think like, you know, they say that it's not curable, which I don't agree with. I'm doing pretty well. And, but I still have, I still have my [00:05:00] days, but I have all my tools and.

[00:05:02] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. That's fantastic. Well, thanks for that update. In looking at your sort of work experience, just kind of preparing for this call. Yeah, it looks like there was quite an abrupt shift from, it looks like you were at a law firm for a long time and another kind of unrelated company before that. And you have sort of like two degrees at university in like sort of business related fields.

[00:05:25] Rob Pintwala: What has. This shift, I mean, you mentioned it, but the shift into working around sort of mental health related organizations. What has that done for your, I don't know, feeling of, of contribution or, you know, has that been an important part of your own mental health, would you say?

[00:05:46] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I mean, yeah, I studied international economics and finance. And so initially I did want to have a purpose driven type of career working [00:06:00] like the United Nations or, you know, the IMF or, or, you know, something like that. So very impact focused. But as life goes, you know, my first opportunity was within a bank and then was with an event production company.

[00:06:18] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: And so I kind of went where the opportunities came. And for a long time, you know, I was really enjoying that type of work. And yeah, it was all related to marketing, business development, operations type of roles. And then also investment when I worked within the bank and it was all great.

[00:06:36] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Like I felt passionate about what I did. And then, yeah, I would say probably 2015 or so, I started to feel a little bit like I wanted to do more and I, you know, I didn't know what that looked like, but when I was then experiencing the obsessive compulsive symptoms. That's when I really felt [00:07:00] like I didn't have any grounding in my life.

[00:07:03] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: And I felt like I just had this, I don't know if it was like an existential crisis, but it was definitely that point where I was really reflecting on what I wanted to do, why I was here, what my purpose was. And of course I had had thoughts like that before, but it was very much I needed to do something more, and I and luckily enough, because of what I went through, that gave clarity for me and then, yeah, I think every day, like, waking up and doing something that I truly believe in It just makes my day that much better.

[00:07:41] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: I feel a lot more at peace all the time. I feel grounded and, and yeah, it's still that business environment, you know, so I'm still, because I do have like an analytical brain and,

[00:07:54] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: you know, a business. Brain and et cetera. But to be able to work [00:08:00] for like together, all for example, is like a, so it's ultimately a social impact company.

[00:08:05] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: And it's considered a B Corp company. So although it is for profit, it's still highly driven by. We have like a guardian council, so they're ultimately there to make sure that everything that we do is ultimately looking out for the best interest of the people that we're serving versus.

[00:08:24] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: And so I think, yeah, living in a society that's so highly focused on money and consumerism, et cetera, it just like, it means the world to me that I have the ability to work for made of millions, you know, in a volunteer capacity as a charity, and then also work for a very purpose driven organization. Organization.

[00:08:48] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. I mean, I know myself, I pivoted and You know, figured out how to work in the mental health field and it means a lot to me still five years later, [00:09:00] I know a lot of folks in our generation want to feel more aligned with their workplace and often have trouble and maybe have to do things on the side.

[00:09:11] Rob Pintwala: I mean, I mean, you're doing volunteer work and your, your main job is, is, is in the field that you're really passionate about. But I think a lot of folks have trouble thinking it's even possible to like align their passion or their values with their, with their career. And I think they feel like they might have to sacrifice their career in order to do that.

[00:09:29] Rob Pintwala: I mean, because a lot of it feels like non profit y or volunteer y or something like that. And yeah, it's Yeah.

[00:09:37] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. It's hard to find a space where you can do what you love and also make money to but I also think that I know, at least for me, it was just figuring out what I wanted to do. I feel like People aren't given the time to really, like, tune in and figure out what it is they're passionate [00:10:00] about.

[00:10:00] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Cause we're all, you know, like you go to school, you graduate, then you get your first job. Like, like how I said, I did want to, you know, go and work for like a large company. like the United Nations or something like that, but it just didn't. Another opportunity came up and, and it wasn't until like I stepped away from the law firm and I was given a few months of like just looking after myself that I really started to get to know myself again and figure out what, what were my values?

[00:10:34] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Like, what did I care about? Because up until that point, I feel like I had kind of lost that at some point, you know, like just cause I was just in the shuffle of, you know, going through life.

[00:10:46] Rob Pintwala: sorry to jump in, was that correlated with your yeah, the more, the more like very apparent effects of, of the OCD and,

[00:10:55] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Yeah, it was just that I think it all kind of happened at the same time. Right? Like, I think [00:11:00] that. Before then, I definitely saw some symptoms of anxiety and stuff, and then I think that because I wasn't necessarily in a good place in my life where I was starting to, like, question things, that that's when the OCD had an opportunity to

[00:11:16] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: really get loud and I couldn't ignore it or distract myself because I was also in a highly reflective space And so yeah, and then it was because of the OCD that I was ultimately able to sit because I was just suffering so much that I was forced to walk away from, you know, my full time job that paid me really well. And take some, I went on basically short term leave and yeah, went back to like the basics. And it was during that time that I really felt like way more connected to myself again. And yeah, it had been a while since I had felt that.

[00:11:59] Rob Pintwala: it's so. In hindsight, is it so you were saying like you were feeling more stressed? Leading up to that notice some anxiety It sounds a lot like you know, the the universe's or your body's way of just yeah almost like telling you You know taking control almost of like okay. This is not right for you. [00:12:22] Does it feel like that?

[00:12:24] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: yeah, and I haven't really ever thought of it in that way other than actually now that we're having that covered this conversation, but yeah, I think it was, I know now with OCD that it can creep up when I am, yeah, higher stress. Not as satisfied in my life, not as aligned to my values, all of that.

[00:12:50] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: So I think at that time, those things were probably happening, right? Like I didn't feel aligned to my values. I didn't know what my values were probably entirely.

[00:12:59] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: [00:13:00] And I wasn't fulfilled anymore because, you know, same, same. All the time with with what I was doing at work, I guess. So, yeah, I think that's when it kind of came.

[00:13:09] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: And even now, similarly, like, I'll have more symptoms or intrusive thoughts during times when I'm not, when higher stress or something external happens in my life that can be upsetting, you know, anything like that, because that's just part

[00:13:28] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: of life. But at that time, it was too strong, right?

[00:13:31] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Like, it was And I didn't know how to deal with the OCD at that time.

[00:13:36] Rob Pintwala: yeah, I find that so interesting because so many people are talking about burnout right now. And a lot of like the standard burnout systems or symptoms are, you know, kind of withdrawal, lack of motivation, tiredness. And it almost sounds like another kind of fork in that road could be elevated stress [00:14:00] with, you know, different conditions.

[00:14:04] Rob Pintwala: Sound more like OCD. It's like it's like your stress is elevated. You're probably maybe exhausted and like it manifests in a different way for some folks. And it sounds like You know, does it sound like you're just triggered.

[00:14:17] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Yeah, it's like you're triggered. Like, there's a trigger and it could be depression for some people. It could be just burnout symptoms for other people. It could be OCD, you know. It could be severe anxiety. But yeah, I think at any point when your body and your mind is under stress, then likely, and I don't know, I'm by no means a doctor But just from my experience, like, You're You're not well, and so your brain is part of your body, and so then it's not going to be well, and it's going to turn, it's, if it's susceptible to OCD, then likely that's going to get triggered.

[00:14:59] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: If it's susceptible to anxiety, then likely that's going to be triggered. So, So yeah, I mean, like I said, I see that happening right, you know, throughout my life, just when things are or through during a change, like a big transition period, like, I'd be curious, because you mentioned before we chatted that you moved from Toronto to Victoria, BC, like, I don't know if that was all a positive thing.

[00:15:24] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  But I know that when I go through change, then Similarly, I can, I have to tell myself, like, you're going to expect a lot of sort of intrusive thoughts that are

[00:15:33] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: coming up because that's the symptom of OCD.

[00:15:35] Rob Pintwala: Yeah, my I think for me it's a lot of like overwhelm overwhelm in to stress and stress to frustration Like I stopped breathing, you know regularly and I get like just almost like frustration not quite anger Sometimes anger, but [00:16:00] it's, that's kind of how it manifests for me if I'm under a lot of stress and, and abruptness shortness in my relationships, not being present that kind of thing.

[00:16:09] Rob Pintwala: You know, and I used to be depressed for a few years in university, so that was more of a full withdrawal. So, yeah, it's, it's interesting how it's just so different for everyone. But,

[00:16:18] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: But when you, when you went through that transition, like, did you feel any of those sort of depression symptoms? Like not full on, but like anything like that,

[00:16:28] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  that came up or? 

[00:16:29] Rob Pintwala: yeah, I mean, I've. I've been moving around quite a bit I only lived in Toronto for four years. Before that I was in Vancouver for five years. Before that I was, you know, sort of in university with two exchanges overseas. So I'm just, and before that my parents kind of split up in my final year of high school.

[00:16:48] Rob Pintwala: So then I didn't really have a home after that. So I think that's when it started and you know, that's what it was with some of my therapies have been about is kind of figuring out kind of. You know, what [00:17:00] happened after that and what happened before that and who am I and all those questions. But I think yeah, I've been moving around a lot.

[00:17:06]Rob Pintwala: I think took a lot of courage and still, I mean, I've only been in a new place for 18 months, but I think the important thing is to be patient with myself as far as trying to build community because I had been moving around so much and I'm kind of getting off topic here, but I have been moving around so much.

[00:17:24] Rob Pintwala: In the last 15 years of my life, everything's felt a little bit more like semi permanent, not quite permanent. So I think here I will, I'm trying to go into the mindset of it being more permanent, which I think will allow me to like form deeper relationships. And I know that's You know, even if it's not true, if we have to move or something like that.

[00:17:45] Rob Pintwala: But I think that with the mindset of more permanence, I think you can invest more. And I think what I'm really looking for is building community locally. And I think it requires that, that mindset, at least for myself. So that's the, and so it's more [00:18:00] just like patience around that because I also want to be, I think just particular and careful around the people I choose to spend time with.

[00:18:10] Rob Pintwala: So I think I've, I've, I really want to surround myself with people with the right energy. 

[00:18:14] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  Takes time to find that.

[00:18:53] Rob Pintwala: I was listening to your kind of like full story on another podcast around your [00:19:00] OCD, which I'd love to get into like maybe pieces of, especially for folks like even, you know, friends of mine who I know may be experiencing some, some of these symptoms and You mentioned panic attacks, and I'm curious about your experience with panic attacks, and how, like, that manifested, how long you had panic attacks before kind of identifying with OCD or getting that diagnosis.

[00:19:24] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  Yeah. Yeah. I think like, so when I was like very little, I kind of had some like separation anxiety with my mom and things like that. And just like some big thoughts that maybe not all children have about, you know, life in the world. But then I kind of like, was a pretty chill. Kid and teenager, et cetera. And then in my twenties, I was living overseas. I was living in Barbados. That's where my parents are from originally, and I was by myself, though, like my family was still in Toronto. And yeah, I had a panic attack one day. I was by myself. I [00:20:00] was hung over. So I do think that that potentially again, triggered it because of, like, the alcohol and different things that were in my body at the time. And but my reaction to that and, and the panic attack, cause I know it can show up differently for some people. It was the typical like heart racing, et cetera, but my thoughts were racing and I just wanted to calm down, but I couldn't, and I felt very out of control. And I felt like I was just going. Crazy. And I say that with quotations, because obviously, you know, we try not to use that word, especially in the mental space, but I felt like I was losing my mind. And I am kind of a high control type of person. And so that was very scary for me. And what happened after that, and I honestly can't say how many panic attacks I've had since then, because they're, they're more situational now, but [00:21:00] I became very fixated on when that would happen again, and why did that happen. And so, there was, and like, I've never really uncovered if that was like, A type of OCD because it was very much an obsessive thought process and ruminating on on the panic. It could have just been like a phobia. I'm not sure. But yeah, that's kind of. When it started and now when it happens again, it doesn't happen often, but like where it could happen, but it kind of like do the, all the tools that prevent it. And I'm like getting kind of worked up

[00:21:45] Rob Pintwala: Yes.

[00:21:46] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  I'm totally fine, but it's just like a natural reaction when I fly. So I fly quite a bit. And so. And when I'm in, like, elevators or [00:22:00] closed spaces where I feel like I can't get out. So, it's changed to more of a phobia of closed spaces. So it's a bit of a claustrophobia, and that's actually tied quite closely to panic disorder.

[00:22:14] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  So, it's not something that I ever let get in my way of travel or going into places that only have elevators. Like I always push through. bUt it's a very natural and quick response to those situations and something that I've actually, because it is something that happens, has been happening more lately, I, I am going to be starting some treatment for it because It's such a instant reaction, and it's not fun.

[00:22:50] Rob Pintwala: yeah, I can imagine. Well, thank you for, yeah, the real answer there. As a quick aside, and if you, next week I'm interviewing Someone locally here in [00:23:00] Victoria who founded this app called Rooted, R O O T E D, and it's like the top panic anxiety attack app, and apparently it's phenomenal. And it

[00:23:10] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  Okay, I'll check it 

[00:23:11] Rob Pintwala: walk you through, like literally, like if you're having an attack, it'll like, walk you through how to like and if you're feeling a onset of it, yeah, R O O T D in the app store, I'm sure you'll see it. I'm excited 

[00:23:23] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  for me, I'll have to check it out, but for me, it's, it's, it's the physical symptoms, but it's more the thoughts, like, and again, I guess that's linked to OCD a bit, but they're, Everything is so scary in those moments and like my brain, my brain just is like, get out, get out, you

[00:23:46] Rob Pintwala: the reason I asked to originally is because again, I have some friends who like would never have considered kind of starting some sort of like exploration or mental health journey if it wasn't for [00:24:00] panic attacks and it's kind of like, Panic attack was the kind of the, the, the big kind of kick in the face that like, okay, this is not just like a little bit of anxiety anymore.

[00:24:12] Rob Pintwala: Or, you know, one of my friends had it when he was driving for the first time. Another one had it when he was meditating for the first time. You know, and this is like, really scary stuff. And so yeah, I think it's like such a. Wake up call, but I love how it's like it must be so scary to think you're literally Losing your mind or having a heart attack or both, but then you're like if you tell your doctor, they're like, oh, yeah Say that's normal.

[00:24:42] Rob Pintwala: and it's a wild how common they are but how scary it is Yeah,

[00:24:49] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  I'm lucky in the sense that now mine are very situational, so I, I know when it's gonna happen. And I know it will end, but when it first happened, [00:25:00] I wasn't in an elevator, I wasn't on a plane, you know what I mean, like, I was just in my apartment, like, there was nothing that was in danger, and that's what, and I think that's what it is for most people, and that's why it's so confusing, because it's like, I am safe right now, why is my brain telling me that I'm not safe?

[00:25:23] Rob Pintwala: I want to talk a little bit maybe about your onset in particular of like the kind of the scary phase of learning that you have OCD and what it felt like. Just especially for again, for folks who don't know what that what they might be experiencing. And I know even through listening to your last interview, and I know there's like kind of all these different variations of like intrusive thoughts and themes and all sorts of stuff.

[00:25:53] Rob Pintwala: But and I know I'm sure you've learned a lot professionally. In your work around, you know, not just [00:26:00] your own experience, but the experiences of others. So, yeah, how, how, how would you, I mean, and again, sort of rambling here, but I'm sure a lot of people, you know, sort of ask you and reach out to you as like kind of a little bit more of a public mental health advocate.

[00:26:15] Rob Pintwala: So yeah, I'm curious with all that said, you know, how, how you kind of paint the picture of, of what you experience and, and what. What you hear about other people's experiencing early onset or just like, you know, the, the stage of likely being very scared and like what, not knowing what's happening.

[00:26:36] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I think the tricky thing with OCD is like, it's a, something that gets thrown around a lot, and oftentimes, it's used in a way that is incorrect.

[00:26:51] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: And you know that a lot has to do with the media, and how the media has portrayed it over the years, and so, people thinking that, [00:27:00] oh, And, and it happens even when I tell people that, you know, I dealt with OCD, they're like, Oh, yeah, I, you know, put my shoes, like they have to be like color coordinated.

[00:27:10] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: And I'm like, and, you know, and they're looking at me telling me this, like, I just shared with them that I have this mental health disorder. And they're telling me about how they line up their shoes. And And they're serious, right? And like, I'm like, oh no, that's, that's not what it is. And no faults to them, I guess.

[00:27:30] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  But I hope that people are starting to understand a bit more what it is. But essentially, yeah, it's it's scary because there's not We, we aren't taught this at a young age. And so when you're experiencing it and you don't have any outward behaviors, then nobody can see it. And so no one could even maybe suggest what you're dealing with is OCD.

[00:27:54] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  And so for me and how a lot of people out there experience it is they experience what, [00:28:00] what's called intrusive thoughts. And so they're basically just pretty loud. thoughts that we might, that someone might have that kind of come out of nowhere that feel very very different to what you believe in.

[00:28:18] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  And you just have like a almost like a repulsion towards them. And so you have the thought and you're kind of like, why did I think that? Cause it could be very taboo in nature or very inappropriate or, you know, basically just like anything that you truly believe. Like, I don't feel that way. Why am I thinking this? And many people have intrusive thoughts. I always give the example of like you're on a balcony and you might think like, Oh wow. I could just like, Jump off or fall off, and then I would die. And That's normal because you're high up and you [00:29:00] realize, like, life is fragile, but for someone with OCD they might have that thought, and not everyone with OCD, but just as an example, they might have that thought, and then think, oh, does that mean that I want to kill myself?

[00:29:12] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Does that mean I'm suicidal? Or, another example is, it happens a lot with mothers that just had babies, it's a very, postpartum OCD is very common. And they might be caring for their newborn and all of a sudden they have a thought like, Oh, I could just throw the baby down the stairs right now. And again, totally normal because like, you're exhausted and like, it's just a thought, right? But someone with a brain that With that susceptible to OCD will then feel so terrible that they had that thought because that's the last thing that they want to do. They love their child more than anything in this world. And so when it becomes OCD, it's [00:30:00] not when you only experience these thoughts. It's when you then spend, I think it's like. At least four hours a day doing compulsions and compulsions can be anything from ruminating on why you have that thought, doing research on the desk on your computer about what it means that you have that thought, handing your kid or your baby to your partner because you feel like you can't be trusted And it's really sad because you believe in that thought so much. But you're, you're in constant conflict because you know that you would never hurt your child, but your brain keeps saying, but what if, but what if, so you come to a conclusion, and then it's like, oh, but what if I just one day, like, didn't get enough sleep, and then I just like threw the child, and your brain is just constantly coming up with [00:31:00] another scenario you And so, yeah, that is kind of what it looks like, and it can range from all sorts of themes, but it essentially is, yeah, you have that initial obsession or intrusive thought, and you do a series of called compulsions to try and bring yourself back to, I don't know, a certain feeling feeling like just right is what they often say et cetera, et cetera, except The more you do the compulsions, the more the obsessions come up. And so, the only way to get through it is to cut out those compulsions. But that's the hardest thing in the world to

[00:31:40] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Oh, it just sounds like it provokes so much self doubt and guilt too, 

[00:31:47] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Yeah, I think back in the day it was called like the doubting 

[00:31:51] Rob Pintwala: doubting. Wow. I didn't know that.

[00:31:54] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  disorder, yeah. You don't trust, you don't trust yourself. Because your [00:32:00] brain is telling you otherwise.

[00:32:02] Rob Pintwala: My goodness. And a little bit, I mean, when we first started chatting, you, you, you said that you're not sure if you still have OCD. And I know there's different ways to sort of be. Use, you know, even possessive pronouns or whatever around, you know, mental health diagnoses. And people say it different ways and identify with it different ways.

[00:32:25] Rob Pintwala: And how has your, mentioned a lot of like the tools and sort of you have these tools and you have, you know, all this kind of knowledge now, I'm curious. And you're like, they say it can't be cured, but maybe you disagree with that. I'm curious how you look, if you look back at your last X number of years if you kind of look at it, like.

[00:32:51]Rob Pintwala: equal contribution to your kind of healing and growth and transformation or if you had any huge, you know, big [00:33:00] shifts, unlocks if it's just combination of sort of, you know, learning and therapy and medication and, and practice and discipline and relapse or if there's like any like deeper kind of like growth that just kind of like went underneath it all and just like unlocked some stuff.

[00:33:19] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Yeah, I mean, I think it was a combination of all of that. Like, I think initially it was purely on tools, right? So I, did what's called well, cognitive behavioral therapy, but more specifically what's called exposure response prevention therapy, which is kind of like the gold standard for OCD. It helped me a bit.

[00:33:42] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: It didn't, it wasn't. the the be all and end all for me just because a lot of my compulsions were rumination and rumination on, and I don't mean rumination in the sense of like, you know, symptom of depression where you're ruminating about the past, et cetera, et cetera. It was just [00:34:00] ruminating on one thing over and over like a loop. It's exhausting. And not to. Compare it to, to the other type of rumination, but just for the purpose of explaining it. Meditation was like my number one thing that helped me and it gave me, and I, I kind of go in and out of practice now. It's one of those things that I feel so grateful for knowing that it's there and that as soon as I incorporate it into more of a practice, the benefits of it are just a superpower. It gave me the space that I needed to, the space I needed from my thoughts to myself as a human. And to see that they're two very different things. that my thoughts don't necessarily mean anything about who I am. And then I think understanding [00:35:00] my values more and really identifying those early on, but also like throughout, because I did have a relapse probably about a year, a year and a bit.

[00:35:13] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: I can't remember actually exactly a year and a half after I was first diagnosed. And so I didn't, I would say it wasn't as Grounded and there were still certain beliefs, inner beliefs that I had, I think that I needed to work on. So yeah, very much values driven and then changing some of those core beliefs.

[00:35:34] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  So, like you said, it's a doubting disorder. And so really starting to. I believe deeply that I can trust myself and also that I'm stronger than I think so just not to have a mantra or whatever, but change like we can change what we believe in about anything in life and that's including ourselves. And [00:36:00] I think that's something I continuously have to work on. BuT yeah, meditation, like when you get that separation from your thoughts and who you are at the core, it's such a wonderful thing. Because we have so much noise in our heads all the time, and it's so hard to sometimes tune in to ourselves. I often still think, like, and I know when I'm farther away from myself and when I need to come back into myself. And it doesn't necessarily mean that I'm in a bad place. It just means that I'm caught up in work or potentially, you know, struggles in a relationship or whatever it is. And it's like, I just feel Further from myself and I need to do whatever I can to come back to myself.

[00:36:55] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: And that sometimes just looks like, you know, [00:37:00] cooking or going for a run or just doing things that I enjoy doing that kind of quiet my mind.

[00:37:06] Rob Pintwala: Yeah, no, that's fascinating. It sounds like underlying it all is just that kind of self compassion and like alignment with who you are. And it sounds like meditation was a really good way for you to get closer to that.

[00:37:25] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: I really recommend it.

[00:37:26] Rob Pintwala: did meditation take you a lot of tries to kind of get some sort of perceived value from it?

[00:37:32] Rob Pintwala: Did you have to like initially persist until you figured out? Wow, this is this is actually beneficial in some way or

[00:37:40] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  Yeah, I had done like this, I participated in a research study for OCD and it was around meditation. So I was kind of lucky in the sense that I was like forced to meditate every day for like three days I think, for 20 minutes a day. And I took it seriously because [00:38:00] it was like, you know, through Sunnybrook, which is one of our big hospitals here in Toronto, and like the one place that has like the best OCD clinic in all of Canada. Yeah, I was forced into it and it was through that experience of like that daily practice because I think if I, I haven't been meditating a lot lately kind of on and off, you know, and so if I go and meditate now, after we get off here, sure, I'll get some immediate benefits. Like I'll get a bit of a reset, kind of like a nap, you know, where like, maybe I'll get some insight during the meditation, whatever, but it's not going to be like the longterm.

[00:38:35] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  Like when I was practicing those three months, I would have like, I don't know. It was just entirely different. I think I mentioned it in the podcast that you listened to where I remember a specific moment, like hanging out with my mom and we were driving and like everything was cool. And then I had this like kind of existential related intrusive thought, like, and one that I really didn't want to think about at the time. And it [00:39:00] was just such a realization of like, Oh, like your brain literally can come up with anything at any point in time that's unrelated to how you're feeling. And you can choose to go into that thought, or you can choose to, like, just come back to the moment and chill out. But we're so connected sometimes, we attach so quickly to some of our thoughts. And that's why with OCD, we're kind of forced, in a way, to interact with our thoughts differently. And the average person, unfortunately, well Fortunately, unfortunately isn't ever forced to really train their mind in

[00:39:38] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  that way, I think they’re some benefits of having a mental illness,

[00:39:42] Rob Pintwala: what are your other maybe like boundaries or Like around for example social media because that's something that you limit Intentionally, or do you find that that's not an issue, like, as far as. Just getting down rabbit holes and tangents. That's so [00:40:00] easy to do with these apps.

[00:40:02] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Sometimes I have to like, I'll just delete it on my phone. It's almost like I can feel it. Like I get this feeling of like a ick feeling and I'm like, Oh, I I'm looking at this too much. And so I just remove it and then when I feel like I can deal with it again, usually it's only like a few days, don't get me wrong, but there are certain times where it's like I'm and it's always to avoid something else, right?

[00:40:34] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  Like you're avoiding a certain feeling or you're avoiding doing a certain task that you don't want to do, or you're You know, you can't find anything to watch on TV, so you're scrolling, and you're looking for maybe a feeling to get, like, out of the stupid app. So, like, I'm very aware of

[00:40:53] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  it but yeah, I don't have any, like, specific boundaries. It's more just, like, the awareness and then putting it away when I [00:41:00] feel like I'm really getting pulled in. I think that's something we all struggle with.

[00:41:04] Rob Pintwala: The awareness part sounds like the this skill that's been worked on for a long time, . Right. So that's, that's the 

[00:41:11] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Yeah, I have almost too much awareness, I think, sometimes.

[00:41:17] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. As, as we. To start to wrap up, I wanted to ask you, like, now that you've been in this sort of field in working and volunteering in mental health and you've been open about your story, what have you gotten out of seeing other people maybe interacting with you, interacting with some of your companies through their content or through their products?

[00:41:43] Rob Pintwala: what does it mean to you to see other people um, You know, reach out or or or who are either struggling or making change, like, how does that play into all this?

[00:41:58] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Yeah, for [00:42:00] sure. Um, I mean, I think naturally, like when we give and we put ourselves out there to other people, it feels pretty great in return. Right. And also just on the made a billion side of things, you know, we constantly have people that really from around the world that reach out just because. They've come across articles of other stories or videos or, you know, even just our TikTok account. And they're just so grateful because they didn't have the words to explain what they were going through. And it could be OCD. We have a huge OCD community for sure, but it could be anything, anything related to mental health.

[00:42:46] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: And so just knowing that we're helping millions of people around the world, just, you know, it's. There's nothing better than that. And then with, with together all the company that I work for, [00:43:00] it's all peer based, like it's, it's monitored by clinicians, but it's essentially a peer to peer support platform, website, whatever you want to call it.

[00:43:11] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: And that aside, actually, I didn't mention this, but aside from all like the therapy and everything, peer support groups was like the number one thing that helped me. And like you said about community earlier, like finding your people and finding people that understand you, like it's, there's nothing better than that. And so to be able to work for a company that ultimately is creating that sort of community for people. Yeah, it's, it's really rewarding. And one thing that I guess I'll, I'll leave you with, or I don't know if you have any other questions, but I learned through this guy named Mark Freeman. I don't know if you've come across him on Instagram.Yeah, I think he had OCD in the past, but anyhow. He said once instead of going into situations to get, go into situations always to give. And I really liked that because I think oftentimes, at least for me, whenever I'm feeling like sad or anxious or whatever, I'm so uncomfortable with it that I want to like, I want someone to like take it away from me. When I started to approach situations of like giving. It just has changed my life. So, it's just, yeah, like, and when you do that, you then change your own, Like, Like, if I'm sad, but I go into a situation and give to that person, automatically I feel better. Whereas if I'm sad and I go to that person to make me feel better, I'm gonna feel worse.

[00:44:54] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: No one can make you feel better. So, I just feel like that [00:45:00] was such an aha moment for me, so I like to share that, but I can't take the credit for it. And it's maybe like, very normal for other people to that have taken life like that and taken that approach, but I haven't. So it's been a big change for me.

[00:45:16] Rob Pintwala: that's excellent. Thank you for that. I and I don't want to devalue that at all. I just want to add my my similar recent realization is is different. Just a different word for it is, I think the concept of contribution, like how can you contribute? And I think that because giving For some folks may almost sounds like, well, there's no balance.

[00:45:40] Rob Pintwala: It's just like draining, but like, yeah, contributing is like, how can you be a piece of the puzzle too? And I think that, yeah, it's a, it's a great mindset. 

[00:45:48] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  that, I was just going to say on that, because people then go, have asked him, like, Well, when you, when do you know when to stop giving? And that could be in a relationship. It could be in work or whatever. And he says, you've [00:46:00] given until you can't give any more. So you kind of have to know that boundary for yourself, but I hear you on the contribution.

[00:46:06] Mary-Lyn Kieffer:  It's a bit of a different word and not so draining. So I like that.

[00:46:09] Rob Pintwala: yeah. I love that. Give until you can't give anymore. Yeah. Then you'll feel the benefits. Where can people find you and, and connect with you if they want to.

[00:46:19] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Yeah. So I, I mean on LinkedIn but also made of millions I'm up there under the team. Yeah. So I would say either through, through one of the two, I'm not on the together all site and then I just have my personal Instagram, but nothing too exciting. So yeah. And check out both made of millions and together all I think they're both doing really great things and. Yeah, thanks for the opportunity to

[00:46:45] Rob Pintwala: Thank you, Mary Lynn. Yeah, we'll put all that in the notes associated with this episode and the show notes. So it was amazing to reconnect with you. Thank you for showing, sharing your story and your wisdom. And yeah, I, I'm excited to see the work that you're continuing to do out [00:47:00] there. So thank you.

[00:47:01] Mary-Lyn Kieffer: Thank you.

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