When I wrote about the zone a few days ago, I realized that one of my big triggers isn't so much wanting to get skinny but it's that I'm missing being in the zone. I'm missing that obsessive, single-minded pursuit of...something. That preternatural focus. The endorphins. The zone.
Yet some of the moments when I've felt most alive--or at least most relaxed and "myself"--where when I was in sort of an alternative zone. When I'm making jewelry, say, or snuggling with Aria. When I'm writing or was doing some of my thesis research (reading the articles and connecting the dots into a continuous storyline). No, the feelings weren't identical, but it's been the closest I've gotten in a healthy way.
Just handing me a crochet hook and yarn wouldn't have gotten me into recovery. (If only it were that easy!) ED recovery is a lot more complicated than that. But I find myself more relaxed and less anxious when I'm in the other zone than when I'm just functioning normally. Perhaps this is why knitting has been found to help with ED treatment - besides just lowering anxiety, it also provides a nice substitute for the zone that people in treatment are missing.
Many of the people I've known have found creative endeavors to be helpful in their recovery, and I've always wondered why that is. Some of it is likely getting back in touch with a part of yourself that had been snuffed out by the ED. Some of it might be the playful feelings that creativity can raise. But now I'm wondering whether some of it might be related to being in the zone. That creativity can be a kind of replacement for the ED.
The best thing I've found about the alternative zone is that I am much more in control of when I enter and exit. Though I need some creative stimulation in some form, lest I go more bonkers than I already am, I know I am in charge of when I enter and leave the zone. Of course, there are days when them juices just don't flow and all the words that come pouring off of my keyboard lack grammar and punctuation (kind of like Faulkner, but without the literary merit) and so on, but I can give up or keep going.
That, to me, is the big difference. I did not have control over my eating disorder. I felt the pull of the zone so strongly that I just went there. My brain depended on it. And now, my brain still misses it. But I don't think my creativity is ultimately destructive, colored pencils and silver wire excepted, and it doesn't interfere with my life. It enhances it.