It's becoming clear to me that I was able to use my job as a crutch to get around my social anxiety. I was able to shunt all the anxiety over to blaming it on my job, saying to myself the reason people are looking at you funny is because you are a reporter. This worked. I was able to not feel the terror of being out and dealing with people because I could justify all the fears and panic and everything and somehow put it on my role instead of on me.
Since leaving the job, I've become a hermit. Except for a trip to Seattle last weekend, I've spent most of my days looking for writing work that will keep me away from other people. It's probably not healthy, and I wouldn't recognize that except for the last four years, eight months that I spent working in a job that kept me out in the community and busy.
I realized that, yeah, I probably do suffer from social anxiety when I spotted a clickbait article online about Illustrations that Perfectly Capture Anxiety. The first one struck me as so *me*... and I had a strong reaction to it. It was a massive and painful gut punch. Then I read the other comics and realized almost all of them matched what I've been feeling. Most of them not quite as strong as the first, but all of them matched.
What I was having at work the last few weeks before I got booted was panic attacks. I called them anxiety attacks because they didn't paralyze me completely. But they were pretty bad. I guess it was a case of not being able to stay, but leaving wasn't the best for me either. I don't know if I can put myself into that sort of a situation again, but I'm not sure what I'll do if I stay at home writing. I need to be out in the community, but I hate being out and involved. It terrifies me.
Now I have to figure out how to move forward, and that's the hardest thing of all.
All I really know for sure is that I want to write. That's the thing that brings me joy. Everything else is secondary.