I struggle with anxiety of varying degrees. Sometimes it just stops me having a good time with new people because I’m worried about what they make of me, other times it takes hold over weeks or months, ever-present at the back of my mind.
This weekend was one of the latter. For over a year, the burglar alarm at our new house hasn’t worked. We tried everything. The only solution was to rip it out and replace it.
Sounds simple, right? The only problem is that as soon as you remove the mains power, it sounds the siren. It’s busted, so we can’t turn it off – aside from reconnecting the power, which is what we did a year ago and left it at that.
This weekend, we decided to remove the built-in wardrobes in the master bedroom (they were installed when the house was built 12 years ago, so they’re tired and showing their age) ready for our new bed which is being delivered next week. One of these wardrobes houses the control and fuse boxes for the alarm system so, guess what? It needs to come out.
The only way to truly silence the system once the control box has lost power is to remove the backup battery in the siren box (the bell box) on the front of the house. For our house, that means climbing a ladder nearly 3 stories high as the bell box is situated in the eves of our 2-story house – hence the source of my anxiety over this for the past year, knowing this day would eventually come.
My mind decided to play every trick it could on me: making me doubt the ladder we had was long enough to reach, that once we had the ladder on the side of the house, it wasn’t stable so it wasn’t safe, that I wouldn’t know how to get the cover off the bell box when I did get up there with the siren blasting in my ears.
With some gentle persuasion from James, I made it to the top of the ladder and immediately identified how to remove the bell box cover: a single screw. I came half-way back down the ladder and asked James to turn off the power – causing the siren to sound.
To my surprise, it actually wasn’t that bad – more piercing than deafening. Pleasantly surprised and spurred on, I climbed back up the ladder – more confident than before. I removed the bell box cover, quickly spotted the back-up battery and cut the wires. This dimmed the siren but didn’t stop it completely – in hindsight, I figure this is due to the backup battery in the control box still supplying some power to the bell box – but while I was up there, James made the very sensible suggestion to cut the cables to the 2 speakers in the box, and bingo!
Job done. In less than 15 minutes.
My moral to this story, and the lesson I’ve learnt about anxiety, is that the fear is very often unfounded. The only way to deal with it is face that fear head-on – and I always find it useful to have something to look forward to afterwards.
In my case this weekend, it was looking forward to being able to remove the wardrobes to gain the extra space and to completely re-decorate the room to how we want it (instead of how the previous owners had left it.)
If I’d taken this approach of “just do it; what’s the worst that could happen?” a year ago, I could have saved myself a year of anxiety in the back of my mind for what only turned out to be a 15-minute job!
As with anything I write, this is what worked for me – YMMV (your mileage may vary.)