Subrina Singh was born and raised in Long Island, New York and is currently completing her Masters in South Asian Studies at Columbia University. She currently works as a writer for Brown Girl Magazine and Zee TV’s India.com. She is committed to using her experience with mental illness to help better the mental-health awareness within the South Asian community. She enjoys spending time with her loving boyfriend and family especially her two nephews. She believes that God gives us only what we can handle and each obstacle we encounter in life only makes us stronger. Despite the continuos obstacles and unfortunate events she has encountered, Subrina continues to remain positive and tries to use every situation as a learning experience.
Subrina shares with us how her adoption of the Sikh religion and the love and support from her boyfriend, Aman, gave her the strength and courage to persevere throughout the tough challenges she has faced.
What inspired you to explore Sikhism as a religion to adopt?
After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 16, I began searching for spirituality in my life to answer a myriad of questions, many of which included, “Why me?” I believe it was my sophomore year at Stony Brook University; I took a class where we read the early works of Guru Nanak Devji. The first of his readings included Mul Mantra, I was immediately captivated by the first four words, “Ek onkar, sat nam.” I began learning and reading more about gurmat, Gurbani and the dogma of Sikhi and felt that it was something that would contribute greatly to my life. In other words, I felt that Sikhi provided the discipline my life needed as well as helped answer my questions about life and my purpose.
Have you seen any change in your life perspective since you have adopted Sikhism? If so, what changes?
My faith and belief in Sikhi gives me courage. A life “without fear” is something that I hold onto. I feel a closer connection to my higher power. I feel that our relationship is more intimate, that I am truly His child and I am living His path and not just suffering with an illness because I am being punished. I think that relationship between the pupil (sikh) and the Guru is very important in Sikhi.
How did love contribute to your strength in the toughest moments of your life?
By far the toughest and most trying time in my life was dealing with the death of my sister. Her murder tested my faith, belief in humanity, and belief in love. I am truly blessed to have had Aman by my side from the time I was informed of her passing until the time I watched her body burn in flames. Without Aman by my side I am unsure how I would have gathered any form of strength to watch my family fall apart piece by piece. Knowing that Aman was there not only in spirit but in person with unconditional support towards both my family and I healed me. His gentle glances eased my heart as I sat on the floor performing my sister’s last rites; I knew that I was not alone. He could not feel my pain, and he knew that but he never stopped trying to repair my broken heart. To this day Aman is there for me as I continue to cope with the loss of my beloved sister.
What is your favorite thing about Aman?
I love everything about Aman!! If I really had to pick one trait that was truly my favorite it would be the way in which he loves. Aman loves so hard. He is one of those people that just cares for all those around him. It is not the way he loves only me but it is the way he loves and cares for all those around him. He takes the duty of seva to another level. He does not have to know you well or be your relative or friend, but he is dedicated to being a good person and serving humanity. His kindness is overwhelming. His heart is so big and full of such goodness and it is truly an honor to call myself his girlfriend.
How did Aman support/encourage/provide comfort for you during the obstacles you faced in your life?
Aman has always been the captain of the support team in my life remaining positive during the roughest times and reminding me of the blessings within my life. He constantly encourages me to pursue my dreams despite what appears to be limitations provided by my mental illness. Since the publication of Her Name is Kaur and the beginning of my graduate career at Columbia University, my mental health has suffered greatly and Aman has only provided a greater level of encouragement within my life. During the second semester of my first year of graduate school, I was actually hospitalized as an in-patient for the first time since my diagnosis twice during a span of three months for ten days at a time. It was an extremely difficult time and even facing the obstacle of having had to make the decision to admit myself was very challenging for me. Aman supported my decision, constantly telling me that “I knew what was best for me.” Reminding me that I had made decisions that had, “gotten me this far.”
How has your relationship with Aman changed your life perspectives/how you view yourself?
Growing up in a traditional Indian family, after my diagnosis, my family wondered, “Who would marry me? “Who would even want to be with me?” For many years of my life I felt inferior because of my illness. I felt that being bipolar made me unlovable. Aman made me realize that being biplolar is just but a mere part of me and that there is so much more. He showed me that being bipolar is not an inhibitor; it should not hold me back from my dreams, my goals or who I want to be. Aman made me realize that being bipolar makes me the best version of myself; if anything it makes me a better, more stronger, and more courageous Subrina Kaur Singh.
What is the greatest thing your relationship with Aman taught you about love?
My relationship with Aman has taught me that more important than being loved by someone is loving yourself. Being with Aman has taught me that before someone can love you, before you can even accept and appreciate the love they have to offer, you have to love yourself. You have to love yourself for all the reasons that person loves you; if you do not love yourself you won’t be able to appreciate and enjoy the love that your partner has to offer. Moreover, my relationship with Aman has taught me that love like life is like a journey – it grows, it strengthens and it is a precious gift from God and as such one should be grateful for it each and every day.