Actress Martine McCutcheon has spoken out about her seven-year battle against the debilitating illness ME, which led to depression and financial hardship and almost cost her her marriage.

Speaking to the Sun On Sunday the former EastEnders star revealed that things became so bad she was unable to work – leading to her being declared bankrupt earlier this year, while she and husband Jack McManus almost split under the strain.

She also spoke of how she collapsed 20 times, was confined to a wheelchair and became so depressed she refused to leave the house for a month as a result of the condition.

Doctors were initially baffled by her illness before ME was eventually diagnosed and the actress was put on anti-depressants.

“I would pray to God I wouldn’t wake up,” Martine confessed.

“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.”

Martine also revealed how she missed out on “amazing” acting jobs because of her illness, lost her advertising deal with yoghurt giants Danone and was forced to hand her £25,000 ring to debt collectors.

“I burst into tears. I was devastated,” the actress admitted.

Martine – who sprang to fame as Albert Square’s Tiffany Mitchell – is set to return to screens soon in the TV movie The Home Office.