I have a fear of death. A really big fear of death. I sat in a train once, visibly shaking, almost retching with nausea, utterly gripped with the mind freezing, stomach churning terror of death.
Now, these anxiety attacks started recently, and are triggered by anything that makes me think about death (although, so far, not writing this, which is paradoxical). Ironically, as I enjoy fantasy, philosophy and horror games. Not the best combination when it comes to “mortality triggers”, I am sure you will agree.
The two pieces of media, both of which I utterly adore, which caused particularly horrid terror attacks were:
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
The League of Extraordinary Gentleman: Century 1969
Amnesia was before I realised I had a problem. I just thought it was paranoia, but I was starting to see my death everywhere in real life. his I believe led to a particularly horrible attack.
Now I love AMFP, but I cannot play the game anymore. It causes mild anxiety and nausea. I utterly love the writing in that game, the concept, the execution and the atmosphere. But I simply cannot play it without it triggering anxiety and negative thoughts, which can sometimes lead to another attack.
Century, on the other hand, triggered an attack through - wait for it - depicting ageless immortality. Even without mentioning death, it managed to trigger an anxiety attack lasting roughly six hours. Luckily, reading it again does not trigger attacks, and it is quickly turning into one of my favorite set of graphic novels.
Now, I am never going to stop reading. I simply find the anxiety attacks not enough of a deterrent to stop reading. However, things like AMFP I avoid because I know it will just trigger another anxiety attack each time, rather than simply the one off of reading.
Just for context, the anxiety attacks are morbid (but not suicidal, due to the nature of the fear (a fear of death very much makes one NOT suicidal!)) thoughts, depression, hyperventilation, extreme nausea, a choking sensation, and a phenomenon I can only describe as “internal screaming” which seems to be exactly how it sounds. They generally last 6 or more hours, and I physically cannot do anything remotely requiring effort while they are underway.
It is morbidly funny in hindsight.