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Yamhill County mother and daughter start nonprofit to share stories of invisible illnesses

By sharing her story of living with anxiety, Sara Long hopes it will encourage others to do the same through the nonprofit she started with her mother.

YAMHILL COUNTY, Ore. — A Yamhill County woman is talking about her life living with anxiety, hoping to end the stigma surrounding unseen disabilities and to help others find support and resources.  

"It helps people to not feel alone, and then they can share their story as well," Sara Long said.

Sara Long and her mom, Michelle, are at the onset of a new nonprofit called Grace Abounds.

"We're really young in our business of trying to create an organization to help others," Michelle said. 

Anxiety has been part of Sara’s life since she was a young girl, long before she even knew how to describe what it was.

"Ever since I was little, I was always afraid of everything and had really extreme anxiety," Sara said. "As a little child I didn't know how to communicate what was going on. Everybody kind of just said, 'oh, you're throwing temper tantrums, or you know, oh, you're just throwing a fit.'"

Even after being diagnosed with generalized anxiety, she said it was still difficult to find the support she needed.

"I had lots of panic attacks and just trouble functioning," she said. "No one understood, and so it just constantly felt like isolated and like I was the problem."

In college, she said her mental health struggles were often dismissed.

"Counselors at school kind of brushed her off as being kind of lazy and, 'maybe you're not coming to class or skipping on things because you are out partying,' and here she is struggling," Michelle said.

It’s a struggle that’s hard to see on the outside and Sara wants others living with what she calls invisible illnesses to find a connection in the community. She said learning more about herself and sharing her story has helped in her journey.

"Throughout the years, I just found out little bits about how my brain actually works and how I function," Sara said.

That's why she and her mom are starting Grace Abounds. They hope to share stories, create a community of mental health support and connect people to resources.

"I think mostly we'd just love to hear other people's stories so we can know where to take it from there," Michelle said.

To learn more about Grace Abounds, share their story and help in their mission, visit graceaboundsnonprofit.com.

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