Martine's battle with ME

Salisbury Journal: Former EastEnders star Martine McCutcheon Former EastEnders star Martine McCutcheon

Former EastEnders actress and Love Actually star Martine McCutcheon has spoken of losing seven years of her life to illness, depression and financial hardship.

The 37-year-old said she almost lost her marriage to husband, the musician Jack McManus, because things got so bad.

Martine, who sprang to fame aged 18 playing Tiffany Mitchell in the BBC soap opera, told how she collapsed 20 times and piled on weight as medics were baffled by her condition; was confined to a wheelchair; sank into depression and stayed at home for a month because she did not want to see anyone.

The actress, who has just completed a television move The Home Office, became so ill she could not work and was declared bankrupt in January this year.

She was finally diagnosed with ME, the chronic fatigue syndrome, and treated with anti-depressants.

She told The Sun on Sunday: "I would pray to God I wouldn't wake up. I would just say, 'Please, whatever this is, it is making me feel so bad, just let it kill me.'

"I've had the worst seven years ever. It's just been one thing after another. I have not been in a nice place in my head, financially nor with my career."

The star told the newspaper that after the 2003 Love Actually blockbuster she had to turn down "amazing" offers because she was so ill.

And with her hospital bills mounting she relied on a lucrative advertising deal with yoghurt makers Danone but they had to axe the popular actress because they could not insure her.

Debt collectors demanded she hand over her £25,000 diamond and French ruby ring.

"I burst into tears. I was devastated," she told the red top.

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