Amy Schumer's new Hulu series, Life & Beth, which is inspired by her own life, features a scene in which the younger version of her has pulled out so much of her hair that she needs a wig. It's something that really happened, the comedian, who struggles with trichotillomania, or compulsive hair pulling, told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview published Friday.
"I think everybody has a big secret and that's mine," Schumer said. "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, 40, has had to deal with the mental health disorder for most of her life. Although she didn't say exactly when, she did say that the incident with the wig — which fit terribly — happened when she was still in school. "And everybody knew" about the imitation hair. It was also a time that, as THR puts it, "so much else in her life was in disarray."
One of the hosts of this weekend's Oscars wrote about some of the problems she faced as a child in her 2016 book, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo. Her parents divorced after her mother fell in love with the married father of a friend, and her father lost his business and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Pulling her hair was the way she reacted to the stress.
"And it's not that I used to have this problem and now I don't," Schumer said. "It's still something that I struggle with."
She chose to include the hair pulling in the series she created, wrote, produced, directed (in part) and stars in for the greater good. But also for herself.
"I really don't want to have a big secret anymore," Schumer said. "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."
Although she had expected the trichotillomania to be prefaced with a warning — "I was like, 'I'd want to be warned'" — there's not one. But there is a mention of the TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors at the end of the episode, for those who need help.
Schumer said she worries that Gene, her two-and-a-half-year-old son with husband Chris Fischer, will inherit it. According to the Mayo Clinic, a family history of trichotillomania is a risk factor.
"Every time he touches his head, I'm having a heart attack," she said.