Former EastEnders legend, movie star, singer and all-round icon Martine McCutcheon has been speaking about the health issues that left her so dizzy she was barely able to stand up.
Martine was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, in 2011, and six years later was diagnosed with Lyme disease. She also suffers from fibromyalgia. These conditions cause a range of debilitating symptoms for the actress.
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain all over the body, sleep problems, fatigue, and often emotional and mental distress, while chronic fatigue syndrome causes a wide range of symptoms including extreme tiredness. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by bites from infected ticks. Symptoms include tiredness, aches and energy loss.
She recently posted a picture of herself on Instagram looking tanned and happy alongside husband Jack McManus. The photo was taken while the couple were on holiday in Mallorca celebrating Jack’s birthday, and Martine had a specific reason for posting it.
‘I wanted to share these as my husbands birthday was kind of an extra big deal for me this year,’ she wrote.
‘Last year was terrible.🙈 I was so dizzy I could barely stand, I had been in hospital with my CFS and to say Jack held the fort is an understatement. His birthday was pretty rubbish, so I’m SO grateful and glad we got to enjoy this one… And that we got to see some friends.’
Martine said that her symptoms are unpredictable and she doesn’t know when they’ll flare up. This has meant things like holidays have to be quite spontaneous.
‘I have to plan things pretty last minute as I don’t know how my symptoms will be and I hate letting people down,’ she said. ‘So now, I only surround myself with people who understand that if I need to cancel something (& that can happen often) it’s not a choice I want to make and that they go ahead and book something and if they see me rocking up, it’s a bonus! 🙏🏽’
Instagram is often full of holiday pictures and can sometimes look like everyone is having a perfect time, but Martine was keen to stress that reality can be somewhat different.
‘I wanted to share this, as people only see snippets on insta and life isn’t all fun and games… But I’m not going to wait till things are perfect to live and love my life. Grab what you can!’ was her inspiring message.
The post has had a hugely positive reaction with fellow CFS and fibromyalgia sufferers praising Martine’s open approach to the conditions.
‘So good to see you speak openly about ME/CFS. No-one can really understand the unrelenting fatigue and exhaustion unless they have it,’ said one.
‘I have just read your post and I am in tears as that is exactly what happens with me,’ said another.
Martine has previously posted about how the flare-ups give her ‘migraines from hell’ that make her feel like ‘I’ve been hit on the head with a mallet.’ She’s also spoken about her anxiety.
Despite her health issues, Martine continues to have a successful career on stage, screen and with her music. She appeared in the second series of The Masked Singer as Swan and has appeared alongside Jack on Celebrity Gogglebox.
She became a household name when she played Tiffany Mitchell in EastEnders from 1995 to 1998.
The popular character met a tragic end when she was run over in the Square by Frank Butcher (Mike Reid) and died at the scene. Bianca Butcher (Patsy Palmer) named her daughter Tiffany (Maisie Smith) in memory of her friend.
Following her EastEnders departure, Martine appeared in the film Love Actually, which has now become a staple of Christmas viewing. Her character, Natalie, is a junior member of staff at 10 Downing Street who has a romance with the prime minister, played by Hugh Grant.
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