26 Habits of People With Multiple Mental Illnesses


While they say good things come in pairs… they probably aren’t talking about getting diagnosed with mental illnesses. But for many, this is the reality. For example, nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Others have been diagnosed with both borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder.

While a diagnosis can sometimes provide helpful information and point you in a direction when you feel lost on your mental health journey, multiple diagnoses can sometimes make this journey messier. It can be hard to tell where one starts and the other begins.

To explore this, we asked people in our mental health community who have been diagnosed with more than one mental illness to share one “habit” they have because of their conditions. If you can relate, you’re not alone.

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. “Being anxious about having a messy house, but being too depressed to do anything about it.” — Briana W.

2. “I set alarms and timers for everything. I have seven alarms just for the morning and I don’t work until the evening, so I technically don’t even need morning alarms. I have alarms to remind me to take my pills, I set alarms to remind me to leave the house for appointments. I set timers for cooking, for cleaning, for relaxing, etc. I love being able to say, ‘Hey Siri, set an alarm/timer for…’ because I’m worried I’ll forget to set the alarm myself. I have bipolar, generalized anxiety and panic disorder.” — Samantha D.

3. “Having a PTSD flashback that triggers mania or depression or worse: a mixed state.” — Nicole S.

4. “I write lists because my anxiety makes me forget and even if I do remember, my OCD makes me obsess over my tasks and I need to see them written down.” — Jessica D.

5. “Feeling depleted [but] at the same time worrying about trivial things because my OCD tells me I should.” — Bethany L.

6. “Avoiding everything. Friends, family, work, conversations about my issues, I try to avoid all of it.” — Carolyn A.

7. “Not talking. I get scared that if I let out my feelings or what’s going on inside, people I love will leave.” — Tracy S.

8. “I shut down. Everything.” — Michelle F.

9. “I can’t get out of bed in the morning because I’m depressed, but make myself anxious when I’m running late.” — Janet B.

10. “I constantly try to figure out which one is causing my symptoms. I have bipolar disorder and I’m borderline. It’s hard to tell most days.” — Casey D.

11. “Assuming no one wants a relationship (friends, family, etc.) because of my mental illnesses, so I pull away from them. I feel like I’m protecting them from me.” — Hayley B.

12. “Bouncing from feeling so incredibly guilty and worthless to feeling like everything is about me and the world is to blame.” — Farrah J.

13.I sleep a lot because it feels like my only escape. I can sleep for four hours after school and go to bed at 10 with no problem.” — Delaney E.

14. “Overpacking my backpack any time I leave the house. I have to feel prepared for anything that might happen.” — Joy Pi 

15. “I perpetually tell myself I’m being irrational, even when my reaction is actually appropriate, so I effectively ‘underreact’ externally.” — Kelsey R.

16. “Isolating myself. Then getting lonely, but still not going outside because I don’t know how to act/don’t want my symptoms appearing in social situations.” — Cheri H.

17. “Scrolling on my phone through my socials… endlessly trying to distract myself. I have depression and anxiety disorders and they trigger each other.” — Reba E.

18. “Making lists — ADHD gives me so many thoughts and ideas and my anxiety tells me I’m going to forget them all. I make sure I write things down and leave the notes in a place I’ll see them!” — Robyn B.

19. “Trying to figure out if this is part of my mental health symptoms or just a normal human experience.” — Brianna P.

20. “Trying too hard. I have anxiety, depression, PTSD and BPD and when I’m not in a safe place that I choose, then I try way too hard to appear normal. I overwork myself I laugh when I shouldn’t. I put myself into awkward social situations to fit in and seem ‘normal.'” — Stephanie R.

21. “I have bipolar disorder, psychosis, PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks. I count things without realizing it. Tiles on a floor, lines on a paper, people on a sidewalk or in a store. It gets my thoughts off my anxiety and it also helps when I’m dissociating and brings me back to reality.” — Crystal T.

22. “I can think of a lot of interactions, but probably the worst for me is the sheer fatigue. Being sleepy is actually wonderful for me, because it means I will (probably) sleep. Otherwise my depression — and antidepressants — keep me beat down, but my hallucinations from schizoaffective disorder will often prevent sleep.” — Mary A.

23. “I typically have to repeat to myself multiple times a day, ‘Just show up,’ or ‘Do it now.’ It’s become a habit because typically my anxiety causes me to postpone or avoid things entirely that would actually be easily take care of, while my depression makes me so tired I don’t feel like I have enough energy to do even small chores. So now my mottos, said aloud, help me tap into my inner strength. Typically that push will enable me to do one thing, and then I’ll feel accomplished and more able to do other things. It’s a chain reaction.” — Jocelyn D.

24. “I constantly say ‘I’m sorry’ because I feel like a burden for having the mental illnesses I do. I feel guilty when symptoms show up and I apologize for it.” — Brandy G.

25. “I constantly put myself down, degrade myself, and compare myself. Or, I will set ridiculously high standards for myself in anything I do, then tear myself down if I do not reach that goal. Stems from the, ‘You’re not good enough, you’re sick, you will never be good enough’ mentality.” — Amanda G.

26. “I’m a hoarder, and no matter how much I hate this habit, I just can’t discard things… my kid’s toys, my old clothes… and it is increasing the clutter in my house. Then my anxiety grows when I can’t sort and keep my house mess-free.” — Adiya F.

What tips do you have for managing more than one mental illness diagnoses? Tell us in the comments below.

Getty image via yngsa


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