It's good to have you here. I hope that you will find many good answers and discussions regarding these concerns you have. I'm a former Roman Catholic, as are several others on this website, though I made the less common decision to convert to Oriental/non-Chalcedonian Orthodoxy rather than Eastern, so that no doubt colors my perspective to at least some degree.
The issue I'm struggling with is my Catholic faith
Which you would not be giving up by joining the Orthodox Church. You would, however, learn the complete and thoroughly Patristic understanding of the concept of catholicity, which differs somewhat from Rome's later-developed understanding that has led so many to conflate "Catholic" with "in communion with Rome". This is not what it means, and has never been what it means outside of the post-Schism Roman context.
and how to deal with these changes in spiritual perceptions I feel and how they would impact my life and friendships.
I am not going to sugar coat this: You will most likely lose friends. People will not like it. Orthodoxy is not popular. I can't tell you how exactly to deal with the social side of converting (which is probably not good to worry about ahead of time, anyway), but suffice it to say that in my own conversion from the RCC to Orthodoxy, I did have to reach a point where I was happier being Orthodox with fewer friends than RC with a lot more friends (who, of course, turned out not to be such good friends after all, since we could no longer speak without their heavy-handed concerns for my eternal soul cropping up all the time; I understand and appreciate why this is so, but it did get old fast). Maybe you will be an exception, but it is good to remember that we are Christians to worship and follow God, not to necessarily be liked by everyone.
I'm not a liberal Catholic and am part of a subculture in the Catholic Church that is very staunch not ecumenical and traditional in their faith. I could go to my priest for spiritual counseling but I doubt he would see leaving the Catholic Church to become Eastern Orthodox as a positive spiritual development, I really don't know how he would react.
Why is his reaction important?
Also I have some spiritual tension going inside me because I've really bought into all the Catholic doctrines and dogmas and a part of me is afraid of leaving the Church by committing an act of schism, losing sanctifying grace and putting my eternal soul in jeopardy.
Go slowly. By way of illustration, I did not join the Coptic Orthodox Church out of any hatred of Chalcedon or Chalcedonians. In fact, it wasn't until I actually began my catechesis in the Coptic Orthodox Church that I realized how little I had even considered Chalcedon one way or another. You will likely find that the process of becoming Orthodox (rather than being interested in Orthodoxy
-- I've known a lot of RCs who've claimed to be interested in Orthodoxy, but it generally stays at that level of rational head-knowledge and book learning) is similar: Until you're actually doing it/experiencing it, you will not know how your mind will be transformed. To put it bluntly, I thank God that I do not fear hellfire from the mouths of heretics and schismatics, but only from God and for my own sins (and not imagined ones, like not being communion with the Pope of Rome). From an Orthodox perspective, it would be far more problematic for me to begin to listen to and accept the judgments of the non-Orthodox, as opposed to my priests and bishops. Again, this is something that will make more sense after living in an Orthodox church.
It would be helpful if I could hear from Catholics who converted to Orthodoxy and how you dealt with the theological issues and other problems you encountered when switching over.
It wasn't "switching over", in my experience. Perhaps because my particular church is non-European (as opposed to the RC and EO), but then I also know the Eastern Orthodox do hold to the idea that it is the Latins and the Protestants who are essentially two sides of the same coin, not Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. That being said, in my case I took about three years from the time I attended my last RC Mass to my reception into the Orthodox Church. While it is definitely true that it is later than you think, I wanted to make sure that I was converting to something I really believe in, rather than away from something I did not (by that point). That is perhaps the one thing I can really advise. Orthodoxy must be considered on its own merits, as something that is fundamentally not cognate to other Christianities. I write this not because I think Latins are irredeemable reprobates or anything like that, but because I agree with the EP in his famous estimation that we are ontologically different from one another. (See here
for a link to the speech, if interested.)