It’s been an eventful week. I discovered on Saturday that I had AHRC funding for the next three years of my PhD and yesterday I bought a car, which I collect on Friday. These are obviously two very good things in my life, and things that I know on some level I am very happy about, and in a few months will be really grateful for.
However, I don’t feel like celebrating. In fact, I’m feeling really low and anxious. Fortunately, I knew I’d feel like this… I don’t know if I’m the only person that feels like this, but whenever I have made a major decision (almost always a purchase of some kind, and often not on the scale of something as big as a car) I feel terrible afterwards for ages: could be several hours, could be several days. I’m prone to depression and anxiety anyway, it’s just that I get it for the good things as well as the bad, when the good things are as major as this.
I’m not totally sure why this is, but I think it is about committing to one option and not another. So, for example, with the AHRC funding, that means committing to teaching less and maybe having a reduced income (although I think my income should be similar all in all, otherwise I wouldn’t have applied), and being known more as a student than a lecturer – status anxiety.
With the car, it’s all about what else I could have done with the money, should I have got a different car, a cheaper car, tried to negotiate more, waited longer, shopped around more and so on. It’s all about the path not taken – even though I weighed up the options before deciding (I don’t think this is anything to do with the anxiety over all the God/christianity stuff and “best” choices being, er, shit, because I have had this kind of anxiety always, but I suppose that could have heightened it and made it more intense)
I can be rational about both things and I know they are positive: I weighed up the pros and cons of funding before applying and decided it was worth it – for the security alone – and I really liked the car when driving it, it kind of felt like it was mine, it ticked the boxes I had, and although I paid more than I planned (I have a small amount of finance, at 0% interest, on it as opposed to buying it all outright), I chose to do so without being coerced and I will be able to pay the finance off in the first year. (Of course with the car thing I have the added anxiety over not having much luck with cars and retrospective wishing that I’d paid for the small accident I had in 2005 with my own cash and not on the insurance, despite not knowing at the time I’d end up having a write-off, a theft and another small accident in the following years; oh, and of course, not having that amount of cash to hand in 2005!!)
I’ve also been having bad dreams again lately which is no doubt due to all the anxiety (and also to a very badly timed pill-free week and associated hormone/mood crash).
I know rationally that the AHRC funding and the new car should be good things. I know rationally that even if there turn out to be problems, they may not be any worse than the problems encountered if I’d taken alternative paths. It’s just going to take me a few days or maybe even a few weeks to get used to…