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Woman says relationship with Christ saved her from eating disorders, self-harm

Marcela Eslao
Marcela Eslao shares her Christian faith in a video posted to YouTube by Delafé Testimonies in November 2022. |

A woman molested as a child who later developed a serious eating disorder recently shared how a relationship with Christ saved her from self-harm. 

Marcela Eslao spoke about her childhood trauma and struggles in a testimony video uploaded to YouTube last month by Delafé Testimonies, a global project with over 200,000 subscribers that aims "to create the world's largest archive of Jesus testimonies."

Eslao said she was molested by her father's male best friend when she was 6 or 7 years old after he lured her into a room while babysitting. 

Eslao said that being violated made her feel she had no control over her own life, body or emotions. The trauma would manifest in a yearslong struggle with anorexia, bulimia and overall self-harm. 

"I learned about anorexia, and I thought it was a good idea," Eslao said, believing that the unhealthy behaviors would recover possession of what she thought she lost control over — her body and mind. 

"I think that I was honestly just trying to get some sense of control over my life and also trying to cry out for attention at the same time."  

Eslao recalled losing her virginity and becoming "extremely promiscuous" and "rebellious," as well as having an "eating disorder on top of it." 

"I got to the point — I remember this boyfriend broke up with me — and I was so distraught, and I thought it was a good idea to cut myself. So I did," she said.

"And ever since that moment, I was like, 'This is amazing,' because I felt something. I felt I was able to connect with how I felt for the first time." 

Eslao said self-harming became a consistent habit for her to handle her anger, which could manifest for reasons like her mother disciplining her. 

There was a time Eslao recalls a time after her mom disciplined her that she resorted to cutting herself in a way she never had before.  

"I remember grabbing the largest knives I could find. And I ran upstairs to the bathroom. And I remember just hearing the knives [slicing skin]," Eslao said.  

"I put my head down for a little bit and I lifted my head. And all I saw was a countertop, [covered in a] puddle of blood. And I was like, 'what did I just do? And I looked at my arm and it wasn't like the usual … little cuts. It was flesh. … So, I wrapped that up. I kept that a secret."

Eslao said that around age 23, she became heavily involved in cheerleading and bodybuilding. Her family owned a gym, and she became somewhat of "a fitness icon in my community."  

After one cheerleading competition, Eslao said her team went to a restaurant to eat a celebratory meal. Following the meal, she purposefully threw up her food. 

"[My eating disorder] was like a monster at this stage. And so, I realized if I could vomit, then I could compete. I could keep dieting. I could keep training and then eat when I want to eat and then vomit. [I thought]; 'This is perfect.'… And so I kept doing that," Eslao said. 

While her team was preparing to go to "worlds" for the cheerleading Olympics and she was preparing for her second bikini bodybuilding competition, Eslao said she was "feeling so empty and dead." 

As she continued with bulimia, Eslao said she was shocked to realize her gag reflex was disappearing, which made throwing up her food more difficult. 

"I panicked because my whole career … relied on me being able to do what I was doing. And it got really hard for me to vomit to the point where I was vomiting at least four hours a day," Eslao said.  

"I just knew in the back of my mind, I'm going to die. Because I would be at cheerleading competitions, in the middle of a routine, forgetting where I was. And being thrown around in the air, doing backflips and [I had] no sense of what was happening."

After many long weeks, Eslao yearned for recovery from her eating disorder. She told her coach she wanted to quit bodybuilding and cheerleading to heal and recover. 

During her recovery process, Eslao said she would eat food and take Benadryl to go straight to sleep to prevent herself from giving in to the urges she felt to vomit. 

In time, she went from 100 pounds to 150 pounds. 

One evening, she watched a YouTube video of a Christian preacher who said: "'the Word of God is alive.'" 

After hearing this, Eslao said she began to read the Bible. She later began attending a local church. During services, attendees were invited to come up for an altar call.  

"I went to the altar, and I just started crying," Eslao said.

Eslao continued attending the church weekly and gave her life to Christ. After multiple altar calls and being prayed over, she said God gave her freedom over bulimia, anorexia and self-harm.  

"Jesus is my everything. … He's my rest. He's my peace. He's my joy. He's my freedom. … He is everything," Eslao declared. 

Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: nicole.alcindor@christianpost.com.

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