Type 1 diabetes: "I'm really proud to have a positive impact on the T1D community!"
Published Dec 1, 2021 • Updated Dec 2, 2021 • By Candice Salomé
Virginie, known as Aubépine on social media, has had type 1 diabetes since she was 10 years old. After having been "fed up" with her treatments and about diabetes itself, she finally accepted the disease and opened up on social media to express her discomfort. The positive feedback she received led her to create her own business, "Les Jardins d'Aubépine", which aims to brighten the lives of people affected by type 1 diabetes.
Read her story below!
Hello Virginie, thank you for agreeing to share your story with us on Carenity!.
First of all, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Virginie, I am 30 years old, I live near Nancy in eastern France with my fiancé and our 2 dogs.
In life, I love everything related to fashion and interior design, and I am also passionate about my job, which I have been doing for 4 years now.
Photos courtesy of Virginie
You have type 1 diabetes. Could you tell us how it first came into your life? What were your first symptoms?
I have had type 1 diabetes since I was 10 years old. At that time, I was drinking and urinating a lot, to the point where I was bedwetting again. It was my parents who were alerted by these symptoms and took the initiative to have a blood test done.
How many doctors did you see? How did you feel when you finally got the diagnosis?
I remember it like it was yesterday, the day we got the news, shortly after the infamous blood test. I was doing a treasure hunt at the day-care centre, having a great time, until I saw my parents arrive in tears.
They came to tell me that I was a type 1 diabetic and that they had to take me to the hospital. I had never heard of this disease, but their anguish was immediately transmitted to me.
I don't remember how many doctors I saw that day; it was mostly my parents who had to learn to deal with it for me.
When you were diagnosed, were you given all the information you needed about diabetes? What did you do to combat the disease as best you could?
I don't know if all the information was given to me, but my parents did everything they could to find out as much as possible so that we could get out of hospital quickly.
On the other hand, at the time, people were still talking about a "diabetic diet" and unfortunately there was no availability to sign up for functional insulin therapy workshops in Nancy.
What impact has type 1 diabetes had on your professional and personal life?
I have never had any problems in my professional or personal life with type 1 diabetes. In my teenage years, I didn't want to talk about it or show it, but it never stopped me from living like everyone else.
However, the mental burden is omnipresent and sometimes difficult to overcome.
You're very active on social media. What prompted you to talk about your journey with diabetes on social media? What message did you want to share?
I started talking about my daily life with diabetes on social media when I started coping and living better with it.
I was going through a very difficult phase, I was fed up with injecting insulin without checking my blood sugar beforehand, it was very difficult.
When I started to open up (to my partner) and stop keeping all this unhappiness inside me, I started to feel better, and I wanted to help others to do the same.
I'm really proud to have a positive impact on the T1D community.
Moreover, I don't ONLY talk about diabetes on my accounts, I want to show that my life comes before the disease, by talking about the things I am passionate about and the moments of everyday life.
In addition, you founded Le Jardin d’Aubépine, an online shop selling things (stickers, phone cases, etc.) to brighten up the daily lives of people living with diabetes. Could you tell us about it? How did the idea of creating you brand come about?
After I created my YouTube channel Aubépine to talk about diabetes in a positive way, I got a lot of positive messages from people living with diabetes and their loved ones. All of them told me that it made them feel better and that they felt less alone with the disease.
So, I decided to go further and brighten up their daily lives by setting up the online shop Le Jardin d'Aubépine.
The accessories we find allow us to customise the equipment we use on a daily basis; they make them more attractive and give them a less medical look. They also bring a different look to our equipment, especially when they are exposed during the summer.
In the end, these accessories play down the disease and help people live better with their diabetes.
How long did it take you from the first idea of your project to its completion? What were the different stages in building your brand?
There were of course the market research and feasibility stages... but my desire was so strong that everything was done very quickly.
In just a few months, www.lejardindaubepine.fr was online and operational.
My subscribers were growing, so communication was easy to set up.
One important thing for me was that everything was made in France and that I could work as much as possible with local companies. This is still the case today and it gives me an extra sense of pride.
Did you encounter any challenges in creating your brand? If so, what sort of challenges?
Having 1000 ideas a second was and is a very frustrating challenge because, as I run a lot of my brand on my own, it's very difficult to get everything rolling.
The fact that I'm always thinking about "diabetes" can sometimes be suffocating too, but the extremely positive feedback gives me the strength to continue and to want to go even further.
Finally, what advice would you give to Carenity members who are also affected by type 1 diabetes?
I would advise all people with a chronic illness not to keep everything to themselves but to open up to someone close to them, to their family, to their doctors, or others. I would also strongly recommend that they meet others living with diabetes, because it is so good to see that we are not alone and that we share the same daily life.
Many thanks to Virginie for sharing her story with us on Carenity!
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