I have suffered from social anxiety for years. Many years. For most of that time, I had no idea that what I was feeling had a name. I had heard the term "social anxiety" before, but never realized what is was or that it described much of what I feel.
This past weekend I went to a local Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention called CONvergence. When people asked me afterward if I had fun, I say "Yeah! I had a blast". That is a lie. I did not have fun, I was miserable through much of it, but not all of it, I will explain that in a bit.
There were times at CONvergence this weekend where I felt like I could not breathe. Like there was no escape. I felt helpless and afraid, like I could never be happy again. Even now, four days after it has ended, I am still reeling from the anxiety and feeling loneliness and despair. I could not explain it at the time.