Sitting in her car as dusk settled over Cambridge, on the banks of the Waikato River, Sensing Murder star Sue Nicholson sobbed uncontrollably as she clutched a vial of headache pills. Years of accumulated stress from her role as a cold case investigative psychic on the hit TVNZ 2 show had taken its toll, compounded by cruel words from sceptics and online trolls.
Mid-tour, on the eve of a live show before dozens of loyal fans, she should have been happy. But instead she was in a very dark place.
A misunderstood quote she'd given a TV reporter had led to a national backlash beyond anything she'd ever experienced.
"I just didn't want to be here any more," says the 63-year-old as she recalls the moment she thought about taking her life back in 2013.
"I cried so much. I didn't want to be put down any more or face the public. I had some pills and all I wanted to do was take the lot and leave the pain behind."
Having had a dysfunctional upbringing in a working-class home in the UK's Midlands, Sue had felt hopelessness before. But while there'd been a few wobbles over the years, for the most part, life was good for the mum-of-three.
However, that particular day, the trolls were on top form and she'd had enough.
"I called my friend and said, 'I can't take it any more,'" tells Sue.
"She immediately called my husband Steve and they both came rushing over. If it hadn't been for that phone call, who knows what could have happened."
The depressive thoughts and the impact of Sensing Murder on her emotional health were the main reasons why Sue reluctantly informed producers last year that she wouldn't be returning.
"It was such a hard decision after working on the show since 2004," she says.
"But I found myself spiralling into depression after every case. I felt a deep sense of sadness and wanted to connect with the families, just to give them some closure. But for various reasons that didn't happen and the depression began to have a real impact on my state of mind. My family begged me not to do the show every time a new series came up."
Last year, Sue followed their advice.
"When I told the producers, they were shocked," she says.
"They said, 'Is there anything we can help you with?' But there wasn't. I would feel sick at times. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. The confidentiality was the worst part, not being able to tell anyone.
"I don't have any co-workers and I couldn't even talk to Steve when we were filming. He would bring me cups of tea and ask me if I was OK, and I'd just snap at him."
Among the most harrowing cases Sue worked on was the death of a nine-year-old boy, which featured in an episode that screened last year.
"I have a nine-year-old grandchild, so it really upset me," she confides. "We were filming way out in the wops and had to stay in a hotel room, and I just couldn't sleep and had no-one to talk to. It was just horrible."
"It was hard saying no to Sensing Murder and I questioned my decision for a long time," tells Sue. "But deep down, I knew it was the right time to let go. It wasn't fair on me and it definitely wasn't fair on my family."
Since then, the psychic and healer has continued doing her own shows and readings throughout New Zealand and retreats in Bali. She's also become a staunch anti-bullying advocate.
Now in a much happier place, Sue says the spirits had already started telling her she would be working on a new TV show when she was approached by a UK production company regarding a documentary series profiling significant events around the world.
The show, which is expected to get the green light soon, will see the New Zealand psychic travelling to historical destinations to provide her psychic input and guidance.
"I'll still be using my skills," says Sue. "But in a slightly different way.
"I owe Sensing Murder so much – it was an amazing opportunity that I'll always be grateful for, but I'm so excited about my new path."