The news came out last month that Amy Schumer, an American comedian and actress, suffers from trichotillomania (also known as TTM). If you aren’t familiar with what that is, it means she pulls her hair out—literally. Schumer announced she would be talking about her struggle with trichotillomania, which she also refers to as her “big secret” in her new show.
Let me first address the elephant in the room, in case you haven’t already guessed it.
I, too, suffer from trichotillomania.
My personal struggle manifests not in my hair, but in my eyelashes.
There, I said it. It’s been my biggest kept secret for 19 years.
I was born in the early 90s. The internet took off as I grew up. So, 19 years ago, it was still fairly new. When I started pulling my eyelashes at 10 years old, there was not a lot of information to pull up on Google. I remember relentlessly always searching for help. Desperate to read an article or blog about someone who had it and what they did to cure it.
I remember all the shame and insecurity that followed my pulling.
All the lies I told (and even my sister told) to cover for the fact that I didn’t have any eyelashes. Like, at times, actually zero eyelashes. My go-to lie was a freak incident with the eyelash curler. And for the most part, the other kids seemed to believe it and move on.
I remember meeting and dating my now-husband when we were only in high school. He was told the lie for a while. And as our relationship grew, I had to build up the courage to tell him the truth. To reveal to him that I do something that is self-mutilating, which was the peak of embarrassment and shame.
Thankfully, upon hearing about my struggle with TTM, he chose to see me for more than my disorder and still does to this day.
Over time, I’ve had to open up to more people.
Anyone who got too close. Anyone who spent enough time with me to notice. But still, to most of the world, I hid and I lied.
Today, I have more of a grip on my disorder.
I have long beautiful eyelashes that I leave alone, for the most part. But this is still an ongoing problem for me and probably always will be.
All these years later, a lot of progress has been made. The internet has more to offer on trichotillomania. There’s more research being done, more awareness, and more treatment being offered to find a way to stop it.
But when celebrities, like Amy Schumer, bravely announce they struggle with the same thing, it’s a different advance in the fight against TTM.
It opens minds and starts conversations.
It stirs the fire inside that tells us to be brave. It tugs the strings that beg us to be bold. It gives us the courage to confess the fight we have to face every day. It gives others insight and empathy. It promotes acceptance.
And who knows, maybe even opens more doors to figuring out how to overcome this debilitating disorder.
Amy Schumer discussing hair pulling is one small step for trichotillomania, one giant leap for those of us who suffer from it.