'Running has been a great form of therapy for me': mental health activist after battling depression and accident
Six months after being hit by a car during a morning run, sustaining head and knee injuries, Mmatshepo Seoka this week completed her first marathon.
“It was amazing and it was difficult, I won’t lie,” the 25-year-old said of the 42km Wally Hayward Marathon.
After Seoka set off on November 8 for her usual morning run in West Park, Pretoria West, she woke up in hospital with no memory of what had happened to her.
“I remember waking up that morning, putting on my gym clothes, going to run. After that my memory [only] started kicking [in] from the hospital,” she said.
Processing the events of that day is still difficult and she has to rely on what has been told to her.
“From the statement the driver gave to the police, there were two men trying to attack me and lure me into the bush. To try to get away from them I ran into the road and that’s when he hit me. We still feel that there are a few loopholes.
“Some of the flashback scenes I remember is when we got to the hospital they were trying to get me to the theatre as soon as possible. They said my skull was exposed, my wound was that deep. I also suffered from post-concussive syndrome.
“The car hit me on my knees, it’s a miracle that I am still able to walk and do all these things.”
She said on the day of the marathon she woke up with a painful knee, but decided to go ahead and race.
“Around 26km my right knee started to cramp up. I was fighting with it. I remember laying hands on my knees and praying. I took out my other socks and put them on that area just to apply some pressure. I kept going and I was doing it alone, I made a choice to run that race alone and it’s a little bit harder because you have to motivate yourself — five and half hours of you telling yourself you are doing well and pushing yourself to keep going. I remember saying along the way ‘you can do it, you are doing so well’,” she said.
The furthest she had run before was 32km.
“Around 30km I was crying and it was tears of joy. I was like you are doing it — life has tried to knock you down so many times but you don’t stay down. As soon as I crossed the finish line I was crying, I was in tears,” she said.
During her run she kept thinking back to last year’s accident.
“Every single run, I feel, is an act of worship to God. It is so crazy how I came out of that [the accident] and to me it really represents a miracle.”
Running has become a form of therapy for her mental health issues from which she has suffered for eight years.
“It gives you a clear view of what life is. For your mental health and state, running does so much, it builds up mental strength. There is a lot of self-talk when you are running, a lot of therapy, you are getting yourself to keep on moving and you learn to apply that in your daily life. Running has been a great form of therapy for me,” she said.
She runs an NGO that hands out hygiene packages to children and has also written a book called Your Transformation Summons.
“You need to be intentional about your transformation, it goes beyond you just saying ‘yes, I want to transform’, it’s about you putting in the work, it’s about you being prepared to work for the things that you want,” she said of the book.
The first part of the book also speaks about forgiveness, because that is something she has struggled with.
Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.