There is a tendency to dismiss eating disorders, particularly anorexia, as a rite of passage for young women from wealthy or middle-class backgrounds. My Demon’s Name is Ed demonstrates the danger of such assumptions.
In an unflinching adaptation of her own diary, 18-year-old author Danah Khalil shows readers how anorexia permeated every aspect of her life. Khalil’s eating disorder is personified in the form of a demon called Ed. This characterization is extremely effective, underscoring the insidious ways in which anorexia tugs at the back of her mind, undermining her self-esteem and making her doubt her perceptions of herself and the world around her. The book documents the swirling, incessant thoughts that characterize an eating disorder; Khalil’s frustration at the endless “arguments” with Ed about what she should or should not eat, do, or say is palpable.
Khalil’s story also informs readers of the collateral damage associated with eating disorders: as the disease progresses, relationships with friends and family members break down or disintegrate entirely. While Khalil acknowledges the toll her anorexia takes on her family, it is worth noting they are not blameless in her suffering. Their insensitive comments and mixed signals, combined with the media’s incessant promotion of weight loss and fitness, create a climate that allows the eating disorder to fester.
While nothing about Khalil’s story is easy, the most devastating part of the book is the author’s recognition that, though in recovery and loving her life, the disorder will be with her forever; she knows she will need to be vigilant to keep the destructive tendencies at bay.
My Demon’s Name is Ed is a cautionary tale, highly recommended for parents, adolescents, and health professionals. It serves as a warning to all to be on the lookout for the earliest symptoms of eating disorders, and to take the necessary steps to stop them before they take over.