Anx­ious times:

Af­ter al­most a decade on Short­land Street play­ing Ni­cole, Sally Martin is now fac­ing her most de­mand­ing sto­ry­line, as Kerry Har­vey finds.

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Shorty Street’s

Sally Martin faces her most chal­leng­ing sto­ry­line.

Ac­tor Sally Martin ad­mits she suf­fers from anx­i­ety but has never re­sorted to ad­dic­tive drugs to con­trol it, un­like her Short­land Street char­ac­ter Ni­cole Miller-Kruse. “I cer­tainly strug­gle with anx­i­ety on a week-to-week ba­sis,” she re­veals. “I’ve lost my breath and had my heart leap out of my chest but not that ex­treme that Ni­cole is hav­ing.” A self-con­fessed sen­si­tive soul, Martin stays well away from pub­lic fan sites as com­ments about her and other ac­tors can be up­set­ting. “It can be the lit­tlest things; (com­ments about) the way you look or the way you sound,” she says. “I don’t get too of­fended by things they write about Ni­cole be­cause that’s not me. Some­times I have to per­form things as Ni­cole and I go, ‘Oh my gosh, what’s she do­ing this for or say­ing that for?’ “It’s when it gets per­sonal that I can’t han­dle it very well.” The drama’s third-long­est-serv­ing cast mem­ber (be­hind Michael Galvin and Ben Mitchell), Martin has played the Fern­dale nurse since 2009 but says the past year has been the hard­est her char­ac­ter has en­dured.

Ni­cole’s life took a turn for the worse af­ter her les­bian af­fair with fel­low nurse Ruby (JJ Fong) nearly ended her mar­riage to Vin­nie (Pua Ma­ga­siva).

The cou­ple re­united but the blows kept com­ing with their tod­dler son Pele be­ing di­ag­nosed with di­a­betes, Vin­nie’s son Michael (Duane Evans Jr) leav­ing to join his mum in Sin­ga­pore, Vin­nie’s flir­ta­tion with an­other woman, and re­peated fi­nan­cial dis­as­ters lead­ing to the loss of the fam­ily home.

But it seems the lat­est sto­ry­line in which Ni­cole de­vel­ops an ad­dic­tion to pre­scrip­tion drugs while try­ing to con­trol anx­i­ety at­tacks, which started af­ter she was run over by a drunk Dr Finn Warner (Lukas Whit­ing), could be the final straw.

“It just goes from worse to worse to worse. It’s been emo­tional,” says Martin, of her char­ac­ter’s strug­gles.

“I’m used to quite a lot of light with Ni­cole, es­pe­cially with Ni­cole and Vin­nie, so it’s been quite a trial.”

She ad­mits when she heard about Ni­cole’s ac­ci­dent, she did won­der if her run on the drama was com­ing to an end.

“I read the script where she gets run over. It was the last episode in the block and the last scene that we had,” Martin says. “There’s this thump and the car, and Leanne (Jen­nifer Lud­lam) screams, ‘Oh my god, you’ve killed her’ and then we had no more scripts. I was like, ‘What? She’s dead. That’s how you’re go­ing to tell me’.”

While Ni­cole is badly in­jured she ap­pears to bounce back, re­turn­ing to work only days af­ter surgery for a bro­ken leg. How­ever, then the panic at­tacks be­gin and she starts tak­ing pre­scrip­tion drugs to con­trol her anx­i­ety lev­els.

When Vin­nie is called to a fam­ily emer­gency, she starts to over-use the med­i­ca­tion and when her sup­plies run out, she takes dras­tic ac­tion.

“I think she’s just come back to work way too fast and her anx­i­ety is off the charts,” says Martin, adding she did her own re­search into ad­dic­tion. “That feel­ing that she needs (the pills) hap­pens much quicker be­cause she’s put this pres­sure on her­self to per­form the way she used to when re­ally she’s not ready at all.”

Martin also hopes the sto­ry­line will raise aware­ness of the dan­ger of pre­scrip­tion drugs.

“I hope that peo­ple recog­nise how scary the ad­dic­tive prop­er­ties of drugs like that are. Even when they are con­trolled and pre­scribed by a doc­tor you have got to be very aware of tak­ing them cor­rectly – un­like Ni­cole – and un­der­stand­ing that there are risks and side-ef­fects,” Martin says.

“I cer­tainly haven’t tried it my­self but from what I’ve read it is highly, highly ad­dic­tive.”

She says of all Ni­cole’s sto­ry­lines on Short­land Street, this lat­est one has been the most chal­leng­ing.

“The oth­ers have been fam­ily-driven dra­mas or in­volved oth­ers. This is a hugely per­sonal jour­ney that Ni­cole goes on and it’s been re­ally nice to sink my teeth into some­thing like that.”

Pua Ma­ga­siva (Vin­nie) and Sally Martin (Ni­cole)

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