My name's Andrew Turtle, aka Turtle. I was born on the 30th of November, 1984. I am the child of Laurence and Lorraine Turtle and middle son between Philip and David Turtle. I was brought up in the Hawkesbury District, a small city in the North West Suburbs of Sydney in NSW, Australia. I spent my first 5 years at school at Kurrajong Public School before completing year 5 and 6 at Grose View Public School. I attended Colo High School for many years before going on to studying Chinese Medicine at University of Western Sydney and completing a masters in International Public Health at Sydney University.
I am a writer and mental health advocate with a passion for cricket, songwriting, reading and travelling. I have a strong desire for learning, service mapping and helping others. I enjoy searching the truths to the big questions in life, exploring both scientific and religious perspectives. My goal in life is to reach out to as many people as possible, meet a diverse array individuals from all over the world and share my philosophy to whoever is willing to listen.
I lived in two houses growing up, both in Robertson Street, Kurrajong. Kurrajong is a small town in the Hawkesbury District in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. It is a picturesque down that many travel to on the weekend due to its country feel and a variety of restaurants and cafes. Kurrajong is a secure place to live and has a strong community vibe.
I had a wonderful upbringing. I was a happy go lucky sort of kid who enjoyed playing cricket, tennis and the piano. I had a enjoyable family life with perfect parents, two beautiful brothers and a supportive extended family. After a game of cricket, the whole team would pile into our yellow Tarago and bring the whole cricket team home after a game, to play, more cricket. We would also often had the whole village over to play rugby in the backyard. The highlight of these years were the family holidays. Most the time it was spent up on the Central Coast at my Nan and Pops houses at Wagstaff and St Hubert's Island where, however I also have fund memories of holidays to Kangaroo island, the goldrushes, the Gold Coast, Organe and Foster amongst others.
Cricket is an important part of my life. I have played club cricket for North Richmond, Windsor Leagues and Pitt Town as well a 8 years of representative cricket for Hawkesbury District Cricket Association. I have coached 7 years of cricket for North Richmond cricket club as well as 2 representative seasons for Hawkesbury. I have captained many seasons including one season in rep.
I am an aggressive middle order batter who bowls a bit of offspin. My favourite part of the game is fielding as I enjoy being out in sun with good company. I am known to sledge a 'bit,' but I love the game for its competitive nature and the fact that you are making multiple slip second decisions in relation to what you do with bat and ball in hand.
Music has always been an important part of my life. I was born into a musical family with my father, aunty and great aunt all being music teachers. I started learning the piano from my Dad when I was 6 years old, competing in eisteddfords and performing at concerts as a child. Dad compensated my brothers and I making our lunches in the morning in exchange for us practicing the piano. I never however found practicing a chore and found it hard to walk past a piano without having a tinkle. Dad passed on his talent and enjoyment for the piano, which I taught during high school.
In an attempt to find myself, I began writing poetry as a teenager which naturally progressed into writing songs. I discovered writing songs at my Grandparents house. One day I was not allowed a second glass of orange juice, so I went the piano and vented over a few chords that I had learnt during my piano lessons. I guess my first song was a protest song!
From there an obsession grew. I would spend hours working out lyrics for songs that accompanied my music. I was going through a tough time while at school and I guess songwriting was a way to express myself and vent. Today, I still believe these songs are insightful, however there are dark undertones that reflect my struggles during this period of my life. Since then music has faded in and out of my life from making a HSC composition, starting a band & collaborating with some of my favourite people in the whole wide world to this day.
I love learning and have consequently never quite overcome the addiction of university. I never really took school seriously, playing a lot of sport and music, but have applied myself progressively since year 11. I completed my HSC in 2002 and have since been studying in various capacities.
I became 'dependent' on university down at Canberra at the Australian National University where I was studying a 'Bachelor of Arts.' While I was unwell for the majority of this year, I found a passion for the social sciences, attending as many lectures as I could on philosophy, sociology, psychology and anthropology. I then learnt Chinese medicine to expand my developing philosophy, spending an joyful 3 months in China as part of the degree with my 'Chinese Family.' I then extended my knowledge into a post-graduate degree in International Public Health which allowed me to elaborate on my ideas into global governance and the like. After my masters I then learnt more practical skills in a TAFE Diploma in Community Care Coordination.
My university years have seen me make great friends and have wonderful experiences. My first year of my bachelor degree was spent in North Parramatta, where I spent the majority of my time travelling too and from the university. I then had four wonderful years living on Campus at Bankstown and Cambelltown where I really had fun with amazing people, making many life long friends. While I haven't always been a top-of-the-class student, I have progressively began to apply myself, of which learning rewards have increasingly come my way.
I get a buzz about going into a lecture room where I know that thee person in front of me is going to be an intelligent person sharing what they know. I love the thought that they had applied themselves in theory and practice for who knows how many years, and wants to share that enthusiasm with you and everyone else in the room. I love consolidating my knowledge with every new piece of information that has been presented to me, with which I will integrate into my knowledge and understanding to creatively associate this progression of information that has been fed into my brain into an integrated whole. I love university because I know that it doesn't begin and end at learning, but also in the friends you will make, the parties you will go to and the adventures that you will have.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (affectionately known as TCM) has played a big part of my life, both saving me from self-destructive behaviours, providing me with a purpose in life and giving me a solid theoretical foundation to health. I discovered TCM by accidently walking into a TCM school at Leichart while doing door-to-door sales in the area. I got talking to one of students and then read up on it, to realise how amazing it is!
I then proceeded to study TCM at University of Western Sydney (UWS) the following year (2006) and graduated in 2010. I do believe that I was interested to try to find a cure for my mental illness, and to learn Chinese Philosophy to complement my book, but it acupuncture has become a hobby in which I know I can help people as well. TCM provides an amazing philosophy for life in general and has been a lasting contribution to maintain my mental health over the past 10 years or so.
The course was extremely useful, particularly that we had to spend 500 hours in the university clinic and learn from some of the great masters in and around Sydney. It really was a wonderful place to learn Chinese Medicine and I was extremely lucky with the group I had. I have also made some wonderful friends with the trip up to Hamish's farm in the first year getting to know my wonderful peers that I spent four wonderful years with. Obviously going to China was an amazing time for us all, not only by having such a unique place to fine tune our TCM skills but a time to really let our hair loose and enjoy each others company.
When I came home from China I started Turtle Acupuncture and operated for two years out of a clinic in Richmond known as Hawkesbury Herbs and Healing Centre. Unfortunately my two bosses ended out selling the business to focus more on their own pursuits, but I will always remember this time as a great to fine-tune my art. Unfortunately I have not had the funds or the inclination to continue to pay registration fees to open up a clinic but I continue to do acupuncture on friends and family when asked to, as it is an amazing art that yields productive results.
While I was studying at TAFE I spent two wonderful years living at Hawkesbury Agriculture College, affectionately known as HAC. The first year at HAC was a bit hazy, as I was a MOTT. This means that you compete in a number of fun and wonderful adventures including drinking challenges and activities such as 'tunneling.' It is a culture where no one is excluded and develops great mate ship amongst peers.
I participated actively in the HAC community for 2 years, which created a love for HAC rugby, saw me play numerous games of tennis and table tennis and enjoyed many a a great party at RG's, the Whitehouse, or well, anywhere it was possible to have a party. I met great friends, who I continue to be in contact with today. The traditions, events and activities at HAC provide many great memories and I hope I will never be completely separated from HAC culture.
I have had beautiful pets that continue to provide me with companionship and love. Growing up I had the most beautiful dog's Smooch and Bach who filled me with ongoing joy. Smooch was a large black German Shephard cross who would never stray far from where our family was. We had a house with verandas around the house, where you would find Smooch closest to whoever was home. He was a placid fun dog who would be with you regardless of what mood you were in.
Bach was slightly more 'neurotic' than was a beautiful Fox Terrier and Border Collie who I was my best friend for 15 years. We picked up Bach after he was presented as 'news' in one of Davy's classes. That night I couldn't handle him crying so I brought him into my room to comfort him. This is where he stayed every night for the next 15 years when I was home. I went for long runs with Bach and enjoyed playing 'piggy in the middle' with him in the lounge-room. Bach was extremely intelligent and could sit, stay and come in 3 languages. Bach truly was a man's best friend and I will always miss him and his wagging tail meeting me at the top of the steps whenever I came home.
Being a Sagittarius I have always enjoyed travelling. Since my wonderful holidays as a child, I have ventured far and wide throughout my wonderful country, Australia, and abroad. I have traveled multiple times to Brisbane, Canberra and Lismore, as well as attended weddings in Thailand, Vietnam and Canada. My three biggest travelling adventures however have been to New Zealand after school, China for 3 months to learn at the teaching hospital and Peru/Canada where I vented from losing my job, for just over 1 month.
I love the idea that wherever you travel in the world you will see something amazing and new, and meet people with a similar zest for adventure. I love the idea that you only need what's in your backpack and that an adventure is only ever as far away as you let it. I have been fortunate to travel to many enjoyable places and will continue to explore the depth of this beautiful place we call earth
I have always tried to play an important part in the community. My mother in particular instilled community-focused values growing up as she was always involved in the community, particularly in her role in charge of the Parent and Community (P&C) committees. Growing up we were always involved in the cricket club and fundraising events like the Red Shield Appeal or 40 Hour Famine. This has progressed to my involvement on and off with numerous committees including the Community Board of Advice (CBOA) at the Hawkesbury Hospital, volunteer work at Richmond Community Services and being on the committees of as many as I can be involved in. I have always been actively involved with the North Richmond Cricket Club where I continue to play, coach and am the Junior Vice President.
I have been a mental health consumer since I was 15. Growing up I had numerous psychotic episodes. The first of which was at a school camp on my 15th birthday where I dehydrated and almost lost my life. Over the next 3 months I had numerous episodes, that had a long lasting effect on my life, including a complication that saw me in hospital close to death.
I was extremely lucky during these years that I had a supportive family who could afford the help I needed. Although the first visit to a psychiatrist told my parents they were worrying about nothing, I received numerous diagnosis during my schooling years including alcohol poisoning, viral meningitis, depression and anxiety, before finally being diagnosed as a schizophrenia. I was put into the care of a wonderful psychologist and psychiatrist who monitored my mental health condition during school, and while I was on a high dose of sedatives during school, I managed to get into university.
With an episode in my first week of year 11 and my first week of year 12, it was no coincidence that I got another episode in my first year of university. As the residue of my huge trip to New Zealand, I was hospitalised after being brought into the hospital by the police. I spent 3 fearful days in the hospital at Cumberland Hospital. I remained quite unwell during my time down in Canberra abut was institutionalised for another week towards the middle of he 2nd semester out at Orange. I was hopsitalised a 3rd and final time at the end of that year where I spent 2 months in hospital.
This was a life changing experience as I felt the intensity of the ward at my 6 week stint at Piala. Here I spent two weeks in the high intensity unit where I was carefully monitored. I was extremely afraid in this scenario and had numerous panic attacks when friends came to visit me. I didn't want them to see my like in that state! Despite having daily visits from my family and friends, I felt extremely isolated hear and was afraid of many people, and even the staff, in the ward. It was only when I was allowed to practice my piano that I was able to reconnect with my body. Within a few weeks after this intense period in the intensive ward, I was no longer psychotic and could enter a private hospital. Within 2 weeks at Northwest I was released back into the community, where was then placed in the 'youth program' at Brumby House and eventually transitioned into a house in Parramatta where I completed my first year at University.
In the last few years I have decided to 'celebrate' my lived experience rather than let it control me. After attending a consumer representative course down in Canberra, I have participated in a number of events that have provided me with great purpose. On the CBOA and personally I have done numerous courses on mental health, I helped design a navigation tool www.mentalhealthhelp.com, I have attended numerous forums, activities and events related to the lived experience of mental health and have joined numerous committees. A highlight was working with severe and persistent mental health with Partners in Recovery as a Support Facilitator for 8 months. I have collected an amazing library of resources, continue to work in the community as a consumer representative and keep occupied by many mental health related programs such as the Global Now Project, a global situational analysis that keeps on evolving. This website is a testament to my involvement in the mental health sector and my goal to work towards reducing mental health burden on people throughout the world.
While I have remained relatively stable for over 10 years, mental health continues to define me in many ways. While it doesn't 'feel' like I have a mental illness, I know that it affects myself and the people around me. I do not have the respect that I wish I have at this stage because of my 'narcistic' behaviours, often appear as inappropriate, arrogant and at time disturbing. While I am 'high-functioning,' I know that my mental health still plays a big part in how I interact and engage with the world. People often can't point a finger on it, but I know what it is.
I feel that it is a important to be an active member of the community and maintain my wellbeing by keeping my days occupied. I hope that I continue to evolve my knowledge in mental health and hope that I can use my experiences to influence and inspire people throughout the world.