I’m Suffering From LOPS—Maybe You Are, Too
I remember where I was the night my friend texted me to tell me that “this coronavirus thing” was serious. They said I should have two weeks’ worth of nonperishable groceries on hand. I was in Brooklyn, and I scheduled a food delivery on Amazon Prime from my phone — mostly beans, rice, and pasta — as I walked to a bar to watch one of the Democratic primary debates. That was back in late February—approximately 4,000 years ago.
In the beginning, it felt novel. Yes, trips to get essentials were harrowing affairs, but for a while, nights hunkered down at home, drinking wine on social Zoom calls with friends, felt like a giant experiment.
We were facing the unknown, but we were in it together. We sewed our own masks. We learned how to regrow scallions. We baked and baked and baked. Even the difficult parts of working remotely had a certain freshness; I carefully curated an aesthetically pleasing workspace in the nook by my kitchen window. For those of us privileged enough to experience the pandemic safely ensconced inside our apartments with plenty of groceries, this was fine.
Now we’re within arm’s reach of setting our clocks back and weathering the season of early darkness, and it’s clear that most of us aren’t okay. I think I’m suffering from LOPS: late-onset pandemic sadness. I am not a clinical psychologist, and this is not a diagnosis — it’s just an acronym I made up. But I think many of us are feeling it.
We burned through our reserves of “powering through” and “coming together” and “self-care” months ago. And sadness and loneliness and hopelessness have been leaking, drop by drop, into those empty tanks where our resolve used to be.
For me, August is when the loneliness hit.
I did it to myself, mostly. I left New York and put a three-hour time difference and 3,000 miles of physical distance between me and all my closest friends and family. The boozy group Zooms had long since dried up, and even the texting and phone calls that were my emotional lifelines had started to become less frequent. Work got harder, not easier. We all got tired. We all stopped checking in. And yet the hollowness…