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Amy Schumer revealed she has trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder.
She’s struggled with the condition all of her life and recently unveiled the “big secret” in her semi-autobiographical TV series, Life & Beth.
“I’m proud that my big secret only hurts me but it’s been what I’ve carried so much shame about for so long,” she said.
Amy Schumer is committed to being honest, whether that means discussing her recent liposuction and hysterectomy, or revealing her life-long “big secret”: She has trichotillomania, also called hair-pulling disorder.
The comedian revealed her decades-long struggle after featuring it in her latest TV series, Live & Beth, which draws inspiration from her own life’s events. At one point in the show, Schumer’s character, Beth, sulks shamefully near a pile of hair that clearly came from her own scalp.
“I think everybody has a big secret and that’s mine,” Schumer recently admitted to Vanity Fair. “And I’m proud that my big secret only hurts me but it’s been what I’ve carried so much shame about for so long.”
Trichotillomania specifically involves the recurring, irresistible urges to pull out hair from the scalp and other places, like eyebrows, despite trying to stop, according to the Mayo Clinic. At one of Schumer’s lowest points with the disorder, which is re-imagined in Life & Beth, she had to be fitted for a wig to return to school. “And everybody knew,” she declared.
The actress and mom to son Gene, 3, told Vanity Fair that the impulse typically rises when life is stressful and chaotic—which explains why the need for a wig came at a time when her dad declared bankruptcy and had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, prompting her mom to leave him for the married father of her best friend.
“And it’s not that I used to have this problem and now I don’t,” the 40-year-old explained. “It’s still something that I struggle with.” And her biggest fear is that she passed the disorder to her son, as there is a hereditary component to it. “Every time he touches his head I’m having a heart attack,” she admitted.
You might wonder why Schumer decided now was the time to tell all—or why she unveiled it in the form of a scripted TV series. And if she’s being honest, she isn’t quite sure of the answer yet. But she’s relieved to be out of hiding.
“I really don’t want to have a big secret anymore,” she says. “And I thought putting it in there would be good for me to alleviate some of my shame and maybe, hopefully, help others alleviate some of theirs, too.”
On March 27, following the release of Life & Beth on Hulu, Schumer thanked fans for embracing her story. “Thanks for all the love and for everyone’s kind word[s] and support on my trichotillomania,” she wrote on Instagram. “Big vulnerable vibes and tears of joy for the weight that’s been lifted. Thanks to the community for embracing me when I needed it.”
If you or someone you know experiences body-focused repetitive behaviors, the TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors offers support and resources.
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