I mentioned in this weeks "What are you playing" thread that I'm starting Fallout: New Vegas. I'm really digging the game, but I'm also having a hard time playing it, mentally.
I've got something of a phobia when it comes to nuclear radiation, specifically in the context of, say, a nuclear apocalypse or meltdown. The issue is that any amount of knowledge about nuclear safety doesn't help, the very topic causes anxiety. I use the term "phobia" because I haven't got any rational reason to respond this strongly to this concept, especially since like most people I'll never actually be exposed to dangerous amounts of ionizing radiation. Surprisingly, I have no problems getting x-rays.
The specific issue I'm having is with the entire setting of Fallout: New Vegas, and the rest of the series, being in a post nuclear apocalypse setting. I get extremely anxious when my Geiger counter goes off, even if it isn't affecting my RAD levels in-game. I flinch when I do something that increases my RAD level like eating or drinking new items, and am paralyzed when it comes to consuming anything that boosts the RAD level, even after reading about the system and how it works. I was wound so tight tonight I blacked out for a short moment when a robot came around a corner and surprised me. I'm not screaming or anything, and it's not giving me nightmares or anything, I'm just panicking even just walking peacefully around the world dealing with minor enemy encounters.
My current solution is short frequent exposure to the game at appropriate times of the day/night. I want to play this series and at least finish the main stories of the games.
Does anybody have any similar experiences, and any advice on dealing with this fear and anxiety? I don't see not playing as an option simply because I'm enjoying the hell out of the game, so I'm trying to find a healthy way forward with this.
EDIT: More for posterity if somebody stumbles into this.
Radiophobia was a part of it, but the other part was a sensitivity to sound. The sound design of the game messes with me, and causes me to have a panic attack. It does not happen in FO4, but does in FO3, which uses similar techniques. It doesn't happen with TES4: Oblivion, which is on the same engine from a similar era, but the sounds are different. I don't know what it is, but it did result in me ultimately abandoning the early Fallout series. I can't do it, the joy doesn't outcompete the dread and panic.