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Photo of Dia in her uniform

A Beacon of Hope: Dia’s Story

Before Dia connected with HHP, she found herself in a place of disconnection and depression that was all too familiar. She found herself cocooned in her pain, unable to reach or be reached by those around her. “It was like warfare inside my body,” she described. Having attempted to take her own life several years prior, she was desperate not to reach that low point once again, if not for herself, for the sake of her four daughters. In so many ways she felt hopeless, unsure of her place in the world, and exhausted to the point of letting go, but a tiny kernel of hope gave her what she needed to try something outside of the box.

Dia turned to the HHP program in Peru during the summer of 2022 as a last resort. She recalled, “If the traditional ways of overcoming this haven’t worked over the 12-14 years, I knew I had to try something different. The meds weren’t working. The counseling wasn’t working.” It was her daughter who first introduced her to the idea of using psychedelics for healing, and after researching plant medicine and its impacts on veterans, she applied and was accepted quickly to a retreat. “It was like all of these things aligned as they were supposed to for me to be there,” she shared.


Dia’s state of mind prior to ayahuasca came from experiencing significant trauma throughout her life. She endured sexual abuse in childhood and was met with resentment from her mother rather than action, support, and unconditional love. After leaving home at 15 and getting an education, she joined the military, finding a semblance of camaraderie and support within the ranks. However, after being assaulted by her sergeant (the very person she trusted as her battle buddy) and learning that her husband had abused two of her children, her faith in the relationships that were supposed to support her most were shattered again. This was history repeating itself in a new way, and her ability to trust others was gone. 

Dia’s ayahuasca retreat experience changed everything for her. From the moment she arrived, she felt supported and safe, even around male facilitators, which was a significant breakthrough for her. She felt a peace and calm, even just being in Peru, that she couldn’t remember feeling prior and had a sense that everything was going to be ok. 

Throughout the ceremonies, Dia experienced profound and powerful insights. During her first ceremony, she felt her grandmother’s presence, reassuring her that she was not alone and that there was nothing to be afraid of. This allowed her to embrace the experience fully, leading her to a near-death experience that showed her a divine love she had never felt before. 

On the second night of the retreat, Dia faced her victim mentality, which she learned had been a product of the generational trauma passed down through her family. She described feeling like she had been “put in her place, with love,” and came away empowered to choose how she relates to her past trauma and to choose the life she most wants. 

The final night of the retreat allowed her to embody forgiveness and interconnectedness. She felt the connection between herself and others, and felt a sense of deep love linking each person. By connecting to the experiences of others in that ceremony, her own experience was amplified and deepened, not diminished. She describes being profoundly grateful for the men on the retreat, who showed up fully as loving humans, fathers, and husbands. She was able to shed her instinct to view them through the lens of her trauma.

Dia describes her experience with HHP and ayahuasca as being reborn. When she returned, she even changed her name legally from Ida to Dia, symbolizing her rebirth and newfound sense of wholeness and love. Since returning from the retreat, Dia’s life has changed drastically. She now feels protected, connected, and has been able to form meaningful friendships again. She’s open to new experiences and continues to integrate new insights as they arise. She feels alive in her own skin and empowered to explore her connection to herself, others, and what it means to be human.

Her message to others struggling with trauma is, “It’s never too late, and you’re not alone.” She is a beautiful testament to that.