Amy Schumer's autobiographical new series, Life & Beth, which she wrote, directed, and stars in, debuted on Hulu earlier this month, and one scene in particular has captured viewers' attention—one in which it's revealed the young character based on Schumer suffers from a disorder that causes her to pull her own hair out. In a new interview, Schumer concedes that in real life she does indeed struggle with trichotillomania—a compulsion that drives a sufferer to yank hair out from their scalp, eyebrows, or other parts of the body—and that she has since she was a kid.
"I think everybody has a big secret and that's mine," she tells The Hollywood Reporter. "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." Schumer says the condition first emerged during a stressful period in her childhood, and that it got so bad at one point she had to be fitted for a wig, which didn't fit quite right. "Everybody knew," she notes. She doesn't detail to THR the exact difficulties she was enduring at the time, but in a previous book of essays, Schumer had noted that before she even made it to her teens, her father had had money troubles and been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, while her mom ended up leaving him for the married dad of her best friend.
Schumer notes she still contends with the hair-pulling urges, and that she's worried the condition, which researchers think may have a genetic component, could trickle down to her son, who's almost 3. "Every time he touches his head I'm having a heart attack," she says. The TLC Foundation, which provides support for those affected by trichotillomania and other body-focused repetitive behaviors, is grateful to Schumer and her new series for its "accurate and respectful portrayal of a person experiencing trichotillomania." As for Schumer herself, she hopes to spread awareness. "I really don't want to have a big secret anymore," she says. "And I thought putting it in [the Hulu series] would be good for me to alleviate some of my shame and maybe, hopefully, help others alleviate some of theirs, too." (Read more Amy Schumer stories.)