My Experience

I’m Mikhaila Fuller (previously Peterson). I’m a wife, mother, podcaster, writer, and CEO. I’m (finally) thriving now, and that’s what’s important, but here’s a brief description about what most of my life has been like:

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis? Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis! Major Depressive Disorder? Bipolar? OCD? Chronic Fatigue? Idiopathic Hypersomnia! Rashes? Acne? Chronic bronchitis? Asthma! Insomnia? PTSD? Night sweats. Freezing all the time. Muscle weakness? Nerve pain? Fibromyalgia? IBS? Histamine intolerance? SIBO? Multiple chemical sensitivity? Environmental allergies? Food sensitivities? Food allergies? Numb legs? Red eyes? WTF?

I was chronically ill until I was 23 and then suffered from SSRI withdrawal until I was 25. Then I recovered, or so I thought, and got sick again from 2022-2023. Badly.

When you’re chronically ill, it’s all encompassing. Nothing else matters as much as being healthy. Sick or injured people have one goal: how to not be sick or injured. Then after the lion diet “cured me” I got sick again (not like pre-diet, but very ill) from 2022-2023. I finally found out about CIRS. Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.

I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when I was 7 but my symptoms began at 2 years old. It took 5 years to diagnose. I was put on immune suppressants (Enbrel and Methotrexate) that I injected myself with twice weekly starting when I was 8. I was diagnosed with severe depression (later bipolar type 2) and medicated with SSRI’s when I was 12, but had symptoms of mental illness since I was 8. The psychiatric symptoms worsened when we moved houses and I grew up in a basement with black mold.

When I was 14 I was chronically fatigued and started getting itchy all over my body. A sensation like mosquitoes were biting me everywhere. When I was 17 I had my hip and ankle joints replaced from the arthritis that wasn’t being kept in check by the medications I was on. My rheumatologist said it was the worst arthritis she’d seen in her 25 years of being a children’s rheumatologist. I spent a year on a high dose of OxyContin (on top of the other medications) to keep me from killing myself because of the pain. It was like walking on broken bones for a whole year. Then I withdrew from OxyContin which was extremely unpleasant. The ankle replacement was installed slightly crooked and I ended up in chronic pain for 10 years because of that – less pain than with no replacement – but certainly not good enough.

When I was 21 I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Hypersomnia – a fancy description for chronic fatigue. I couldn’t stop sleeping. I was fitfully sleeping 18 hours a day and exhausted for the rest of the hours. I had restless legs so badly that I couldn’t sleep well – probably contributing to the fatigue (and a side effect of the SSRI’s – something I didn’t find out until later). Then the chronic itch I’d had for 7 years turned into a rash and I got blisters on my body. When they started to get to my face I decided I was going to figure out what was wrong with me or it was going to kill me.

My right wrist was headed for a joint replacement, I couldn’t sleep on my shoulders. My joints and skin were literally disintegrating, I couldn’t stay awake, and I was beyond depressed. I was in hell. The medical system that I had been faithfully following from the age of 7 onwards was not helping. However, it did supply me with Adderall. I started taking Adderall for the fatigue and it worked well enough to keep me awake but had really nasty side effects – no appetite, no sense of humour, wired, no short term memory. I constantly researched what could be wrong with me after that. I researched anything that could help me figure out why I had this rash on my face.

I started with the vanity portion of my illness. I didn’t start by researching diet or environment. I started by researching the medications I was on and how they worked on a cellular level, and what that meant was happening in my body, and how other medications could potentially help. Or at least help me identify what was going on. I had all the genetics done for my immediate and extended family. I searched everywhere for an answer. Eventually I found scientific evidence that gluten could be contributing to my symptoms. I found out that my rash was Dermatitis Herpetiformis – a rash associated with Celiac disease. I thought maybe Celiac disease was the cause of all of my problems. I hoped. I stopped my immune suppressants so I could monitor my arthritis properly (to make sure the drugs weren’t artificially stopping flares), and I cut out gluten strictly. It didn’t make much of a difference to be honest. Some improvement – I can remember that summer at least – 2015 – a bit better than before that.

In the fall my mother dragged me to a naturopath and they suggested an elimination diet. I didn’t understand their list of foods. Why were lemons okay but not oranges? Why were some nuts okay but not others? I had read that Celiac disease can cause dairy intolerance so I figured I’d give an elimination diet a try but I’d do it my way. In September 2015 I removed most foods from my diet. I was used to eating Japanese food and Chinese food, Indian food, and I ate out most of the time. I had a typical standard American diet. Removing foods was not easy. I was living with roommates who poked fun at it and I wasn’t sure about it myself. I actually enjoyed eating foods so cutting down was difficult. I didn’t know how to cook with limited ingredients either. I was in university.

I cut out any food that I thought could possibly be inflammatory or cause an immune response like an allergy. Dairy, legumes, eggs, nuts, seeds, sugar, processed foods. I went down to a diet of greens, some root vegetables like parsnips and sweet potatoes, and meat and fish. Nowadays this is somewhat similar to a restrictive paleo diet. In a month my rash healed for the first time since it had begun years prior. 3 months later my fatigue and depression lifted for the first time I could remember in my entire life.

My depression – the most debilitating of all my symptoms including the physical symptoms – had never budged in my whole life. I had never had relief from it. And three months into that diet it lifted. In November 2015 after the depression lifted I stopped all the rest of my medications including the SSRI I had been on for 11 years. I discovered later that seemingly innocuous medications like SSRI’s need to be weaned down. Slowly. They do cause severe physical dependence. I’d weaned down over a period of only two weeks. Some people need years of weaning. I was probably one of those people. A lot of the time when people stop SSRI’s the withdrawal is misdiagnosed as a worsening of their original psychiatric illness.

For the next 2.5 years I had severe neurological withdrawal and damage due to the quick cessation, on top of the autoimmune issues I’d just barely gotten under control. Every time I introduced a more inflammatory food I’d have month long reactions that involved neurological pain all over my body, an overwhelmingly unbearable sense of doom, panic, anxiety, insomnia, along with arthritis and the rash. With the even worse reactions I’d hallucinate. Now I know I was also living in another moldy building. The roof flooded that winter and my roommates and I had buckets all over the house to catch leaking water. At the time, I didn’t think that was important.

In medicine they’d refer to hallucinations as visual disturbances most likely due to the brain changes I had on the medications (particularly SSRI’s) I’d been taking. However to me I just saw demons like a kid who sees monsters in the dark. It was hell. I wrote about it here.

For quite a while I thought I’d made things worse by trying to get healthy. I had a baby during that period of time (Scarlett was born when I was 25) and I slowly cut out the carbier and carbier foods as I found they made this sense of doom and my arthritis worse. 4 months into breastfeeding I went from my diet of meat, and at that point just lettuce, to just meat. I knew meat didn’t make me react and give me arthritis. The lingering joint pain I had went away in a few weeks. The itch went away in the same span of time. Within 6 weeks I stopped crying in the morning. 5 months later my lingering anxiety went away. It wasn’t easy. I had cravings, muscle cramps, diarrhea, and I missed food. It was socially awkward. But anything was better than the arthritis and the sense of doom from the SSRI withdrawal.

Around that time, 2018, I got written up in the news. I got posted up and ridiculed about this all beef diet I was on. I was dealing with an autoimmune disorder that was ridiculously horrible and neurological damage from prescribed medication that was even worse. My brain and gut were so damaged that an all beef or ruminant meat (like lamb and bison) diet, what I call the Lion Diet, was all I could tolerate. I had multiple chemical sensitivity terribly – my immune system was reacting to chemicals most people can tolerate, air fresheners, anything scented, soaps, shampoos, dyes, medications, everything.

At the same time as all of this was going on, as if it wasn’t weird enough to be branded “beef girl” and ridiculed for the diet – my dad Jordan Peterson went viral. He had started my elimination diet in December 2015 when my depression had lifted and he eventually went to the lion diet April 2018. He’d seen the profound changes in me and even though he didn’t understand how it was possible, he tried it for his depression, GERD, fatigue, and gum disease. He had resolved all those and lost 60 pounds. However, when he stopped his SSRI he also suffered from neurological damage, unaware that the dangers of SSRI were as terrible as they are. Getting off of psych meds nearly killed my dad but he managed it with the diet and a few other things written here. In 2019 I had my ankle re-replaced because it was crooked, and I cured my c- difficile infection that was probably due to multiple rounds of antibiotics years prior. Then I really started to heal, or at least that’s what it felt like until 2022.

My neurological symptoms from SSRI withdrawal took 2.5 years to heal but they’re gone. If I accidentally have spices it’s not a catastrophe like it used to be. I’ve been on the lion diet since December 2017.

Then I got sick again. Not like pre-diet sick, not even close, but I got sick again, slowly. Even though all my products were non-toxic, I had air filters everywhere, my diet was the same diet that put me into remission, I couldn’t figure out what had changed.

First I got brain fog, then fatigue that slowly progressed into chronic fatigue, then fibromyalgia like pain everywhere. Then rashes. Again, and constant cold/bronchitis symptoms. What was going on? From January 2022 to February 2023 my symptoms worsened until I could barely walk upstairs, and I had to pause my podcast. How could this happen if I had found a diet that “cured” me?

Mold. Mold and biotoxins in my air. I know how it sounds. That’s why it took so long to figure out. I had no idea the impact that could have. A tiny bit of mold in the shower caulking or laundry and that had been what was keeping me allergic to everything!? Really?! I only clued in because I had been living in two moldy houses. Again. Not understanding the dangers that that actually posed to my health.

In February 2023, when I couldn’t walk upstairs, or inhale fully, I finally figured out the reason an only meat diet helped me. I figured out why I’m allergic to everything.

My family has a genetic predisposition in the HLA-DR genes that shows up in 24% of the population that stops us from being able to identify and eliminate biotoxins like certain bacteria and mold. Once exposed to certain environments, our immune systems are triggered and cause inflammatory responses and genetic changes that cause a host of immune issues and disease. Thankfully, there’s a lot of research already done into CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome). I am currently on the lion diet and undergoing treatment with the Shoemaker Protocol, to treat CIRS, successfully. I believe that soon I’ll be able to reintroduce low inflammatory foods.

Compared to before the diet, I’m a different person. I’m a podcaster and a mother (something I didn’t know if I would be able to be) and a business owner.  I interview incredibly interesting people in a ton of different areas – politicians, scientists, anthropologists, CEO’s, business people, self-improvement people and I also keep health as an element in my podcast because there is nothing more important than that. I want to make health information accessible for people, and cool.

Now that I finally have the diagnosis for my illness, and my family’s, and an understanding that this impacts 24% of the population (so probably you if you’re randomly suffering and reading this), I’m finishing a book, taking care of my family, working with my dad, running Peterson Academy and Fuller Health and sharing whatever interesting things I find day to day. My one rule is: No Stupid Rules. My favourite saying is “could be worse”. I encourage a healthy skepticism for any mainstream narrative – especially the health narrative if you’ve been sick for 15 years even though you’re following all the advice from your doctors. Maybe you need to try something different. I like getting involved in political discussions and self-improvement discussions more than diet discussions, but my main goal is to try to show people that they can improve their life themselves and they have that power.

The information to fix your issues is out there you but you have to search and search and search and search. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t fix yourself.

I have a few facebook groups that are diet oriented: The Lion Diet that focuses on the ruminant meat and salt elimination diet, and soon CIRS as well, and Don’t Eat That which is less restrictive and about overall health and lifestyle. I have a podcast – the Mikhaila Peterson podcast. I’m very active on Instagram and Twitter.

My logo is a lion with a tie. A civilized beast because I had to be a beast to drag myself out of my chronic health problems, and put up with media trying to paint me as a liar… and because I like to keep things fairly civilized.