First gig as an invited speaker … and 2 weeks until the next chapter of this adventure … people have been so amazing. I’ll do a post specifically dedicated to the awesome people who have helped keep me afloat throughout this last 4 chaotic and scary episode in this series … but for now I have to get back into Aust and survive 4 weeks quarantine on my own … feel free to make contact. I’m up for coffee chats, wine chats, venting chats, anything… I am eternally grateful to everyone who has been there to help prop me up while I find my new centre of gravity 🤞🏻

It is official 😁

ORIGINAL ARTICLEEffects of Alcohol towards Quality of Life in the Indigenous Groups of the West Coast Division, Sabah, MalaysiaAsong Joseph1*, Helen Benedict Lasimbang2, Sandi James3, Chua Bee Seok1 (May 2020)

Webinar- Decolonisation


The Executive Committee of the DEI SIG Presents:Introduction to Decolonization: A 3-Part Webinar Series Part 2: Decolonising Drug Studies: Victorian Aboriginal Women’s

Narratives on Healing, Drug use and Drug recovery. Presented by : Dr. Stefany Brajanovski and Sandi James

Date : Wednesday, June 24, 2020 Time: 7 pm to 8:15 pm (Melbourne- AEST)

To sign up : please click here

I was invited by La Trobe to write about my last couple of months… I’ve missed out some stories but always have to save something for later right? Have a read below about my adventures in the UK.

COVID19 adventures in wonderland

Pandemic lockdown when not at home.

This is the weirdest situation I have been in, ever, and I have been in some weird situations before. Originally, I came to the UK for a conference and a short 10 day visit to Ireland. That was the 8th March. Its now the 28th April and I am still in the UK. The plan was to return to Malaysia where I was going to take up a posting as a Senior Lecturer in the Medical Faculty of a University. So that is on hold for now as I couldn’t get into Malaysia before they closed borders, so here we are. 

Originally, I relocated from Dublin to Belfast to stay with a friend of a friend. My partner was able to get to Thailand and is still there taking care of my dogs. Another layer of complexity to the situation that many people are facing with partners being stuck in another country or location.

Being unemployed now and unable to access any financial assistance other than the financial grant through La Trobe, I am rapidly running out of money. So couch surfing the new norm. But I couldn’t stay there anymore and after 6 weeks I chose to relocate to London to stay with someone I know a little more and who wanted to help. So here I am, now in London waiting to be able to go home to Malaysia.

Belfast was fun for a while. Farmland… cows and horses to chat to, a sheep with a bucket on its head (my friend got upset when I didn’t help it… I’m a city kid… I’m not going near a sheep with a bucket stuck on its head). And George the Beagle who was very helpful. When the cows (Gertrude, Udder Madness, rumproast, sirloin, and bacon) and the horses(just called big horse and little horse) started to run away when I approached, I figured I was really losing my mind and needed to get out. I think they had had enough of my constantchatter to them. I have now decided the proper rural countryside is not conducive to my mental health.

Flying to London was extreme and surreal. I haven’t found words to adequately describe that experience yet. But on arrival to my new home I quickly became aware how much I missed sounds. The sound of a child creaming, people talking in their yards, cars going by. Being with someone I know more is amazing, like actually have a hug, despite how weird that feels right now… I’ve made friends with Alex, a guy who sits at his apartment window. I am in a courtyard kind of thing one house over, but it’s cool. We just talk loudly.

My routine has changed beyond imagination. The writing I am focusing on has also changed dramatically. I have been working on COVID related papers, a mental health survival guide for Malaysian front line and other staff and individuals, as well as the lit review and methods chapters for my research and a bunch of other things. Operating across 4 time zones have proven challenging and sleep is erratic, but I need to stay connected to people so am doing things at weird times. 

It is difficult being so far from everyone I know. I am connecting online with everyone and every platform I can find. Creating zoom meetings to help me and others, attending as many Uni team sessions as I can with the huge time difference, providing some free online counselling for people across the world, and attending Zoom dance parties with my friends from Thailand. So, all in all, despite the significant hurdles and few battles with staying sane, I am doing well. I am happy for anyone to reach out if you need a chat or anything.

Featured HRAF Global Scholar: Sandi James | Human Relations Area Files

HRAF Global Scholar: Sandi James Title: PhD Candidate, Public Health and Social Policy University Affiliation: La Trobe University, Australia and Universiti Malaysia, Sabah Research Topic: Exploring Alcohol use in Sabah, Malaysia: Preliminary …
— Read on

Short piece on therapy for specific groups


Bisexuality continues to be a controversial concept for many. Often bisexuality is dismissed as “just a phase” or that the individual who identifies as bisexual is “testing the water” and “experimenting or lying to themselves and others – that they must be one or the other, that there is no such thing as bisexual.

These beliefs seem to exist across the board – both within the heterosexual world and also within homosexual communities. It is often thought that they are too ashamed or afraid to come out and hide it by identifying as “bi”, at times labelling and attacking them as betraying the community or “copping out”.

Identifying as bi can be challenging. Often it involves coming out twice, once as gay and then as bi. Individuals can find themselves excluded from both the heterosexual and homosexual communities and can be socially and psychologically isolating and painful.

Increasing rates of alcohol, substance abuse and other process addictions can be the result of all these factors. Having to hide and be dishonest about who you are is damaging to our sense of self and personal wellbeing.

As with other sexual orientations it is important to have a space to be honest and learn to manage those difficult emotions and situations without turning to substances or processes. Identification with others alongside individualized programing can be instrumental in initiating the change process and building the life we deserve.

ACT can be an incredibly beneficial tool, using the hexaflex to work with individuals where they are at. Building committed action, identifying values, using acceptance and creating a life that is worthwhile for them can help to create an incredible change for people.

There is little or no research available on working therapeutically with this population. Some research is available related to shame and self-destructive behaviours. Casiello-Robbins, Wilner, Peters, Bentley & Sauer-Zavala (2019) published a paper in the Journal of Contextual Behavioural Science looking at the role of aversive responses to emotions. Other research has been done regarding working with shame using other approached particularly Cognitive Behavioural Therapies (CBT). These approaches can be useful although research into working therapeutically with this distinct population is well overdue.

Cassiello-Robbins, C., Wilner, J. G., Peters, J. R., Bentley, K. H., & Sauer-Zavala, S. (2019). Elucidating the relationships between shame, anger, and self-destructive behaviors: The role of aversive responses to emotions. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 12, 7-12.