Heart Racing and Panic Attacks


Zhou Xiao Mei was a 42 year old woman working as an accountant at a large Chinese finance office in one of China’s major cities. One morning Zhou Xiao Mei was thinking about her work as she started her bus ride to work. She was taking her usual route when she felt a sudden surge of fear. It seemed to come out of nowhere. Her heart raced and seemed as if it would pound right out of her chest. She couldn't get a deep breath and felt like she was smothering. She broke out in a sweat. The bus, usually so familiar, felt very hot and very small. She noticed that her hands were trembling and she gripped the seat in front of her ever more tightly! She knew that she must get off the bus immediately. Even though her lips made no audible sound, her mind screamed the words: "I must get off the bus now!"

As Zhou Xiao Mei got to the side of the road, her mind was racing with a million questions. She couldn't think clearly. She just kept repeating the question, "what's happening to me!" Her jumbled fears evolved into the conclusion that she was either going crazy or that she was having a heart attack. Could she really be dying, now, this way?

As Zhou Xiao Mei sat there on the side of the road, her heart gradually began to slow down and the pounding softened. The trembling, which had earlier seized her body, subsided and she began to catch her breath. An overwhelming weakness came over her. Still afraid and baffled as to what had just happen to her, she got back on another bus. After what seemed like an eternity, she made it to the office, but her work was the last thing on her mind.

When Zhou Xiao Mei walked into the office, she struggled with everything that was in her, to look normal. She just knew that everyone would be able to see the terror in her eyes. But, no one seemed to notice. Or at least no one said anything to her. For the rest of the day, Zhou Xiao Mei performed her job duties at about 50 percent. No matter what she was doing, part of her mind was filled with questions about the "spell" she had on her way to work. She didn't tell anyone about the episode in the car, she just knew that they would think she was crazy. They would have a "gossip" field day. All during the day, she relived the morning ordeal and trembled inside at the thought of it. She was terrified at the thought of having another spell like the one she had that morning.

Several questions repeated in Zhou Xiao Mei’s mind the rest of the day and into the evening. "What if this happens again?" "What if it doesn't stop next time?" "What am I going to do?" "What is going to happen to me?" She was able to get her mind on work tasks or conversations for brief periods of time, but her thoughts always returned to the events of the morning.

Zhou Xiao Mei got the courage to talk to a girlfriend in the office. This was a friend she admired as she accomplished a lot at work but with a good attitude. She shared what happened and her friend suggested that they eat supper together and talk. They did and her friend listened to the whole story. Then Zhou Xiao Mei’s friend suggested that some of her issues may be related to stress at work. However, her friend also suggested that first she see a doctor she knew at the local hospital. This sounded like a good idea to Zhou Xiao Mei.

Zhou Xiao Mei and her friend saw the doctor the next day. The doctor talked with, examined Zhou Xiao Mei and finally drew some blood tests. On their way home Zhou Xiao Mei’s friend suggested they have some lunch together. During that time her friend started to share with her about a friend she said could help her with a lot of her problems. Zhou Xiao Mei was interested in anyone who could help her. That friend was named Jesus Christ. Jesus she said was the Lord and God of the universe who came to the world to save us and give us eternal life. Zhou Xiao Mei’s friend told her that five years she came to faith in Jesus Christ and since that time Jesus has helped here in many areas of her life. However, the most important thing was that now she had peace with God and that peace and joy went through every aspect of her life. She had meaning and purpose in life. Her job was not just a job but a place to minister and serve in the name of Jesus.

Zhou Xiao Mei had never heard of anything like this. She saw her work as a way to get money and get ahead at any cost. Much like many of her colleagues thought about work. Zhou Xiao Mei’s friend also told her that since she had that attitude towards work, which she learned from reading the Bible, she believed that work was less stressful. This was amazing thought Zhou Xiao Mei as work was a stress to her as she always thought people in the office were better and she must always strive to make herself look better.

Zhou Xiao Mei was very interested in this person Jesus if he could help her with her work situation. She asked her friend how she could get to know this person Jesus. Her friend told her that through reading the Bible we could come to know the person of Jesus Christ. Then we must come to see that sin separated us from God. We must come to see that all of us are sinful people. Zhou Xiao Mei did not exactly see herself in this way. She new she had problems and at times made people upset with her, but she did not think she was that bad of a person. Zhou Xiao Wei’s friend showed her the following place in the Bible which said, ‘As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. (Ephesians 2.1-3).’ My, thought Zhou Xiao Mei, those were strong words. She would have to think about them.

Several days later they saw the doctor again and he told her that her exam and blood work was normal. He also reassured her that her heart was normal as her exam and EKG were normal as well. Zhou Xiao Mei was reassured of this, however she was afraid that this would happen again and regardless of what it was she was scared to death. The doctor told her that medicines would not help that much. The doctor told her to focus on reducing stress at work and gave her some breathing exercises to do while at work or when these panic attacks, as he called them, occurred. These breathing exercises consisted of deep breathing slowly when the first symptoms started. Zhou Xiao Mei left the doctor’s office feeling a little better but not totally.

The next morning, Zhou Xiao Mei's first thought was on the spell. As she got ready for work, her fears intensified. "What if it happens again while I'm going to work?", "What if it is a heart attack and kills me this time?" What if I am really going crazy and end up in the back ward of some mental hospital". As the thoughts ran through her mind, her anxiety level intensified. She became aware, while on the bus, that her heart was speeding up and that she felt hot and clammy. While driving, she noticed that her heart was beating faster and harder. An alarm rang in her brain, " Oh no! It's happening again". And it did. She tried the breathing exercises but they only helped a little.

In some ways, this attack did not seem quite as severe as the first, but it was awful enough. While it seemed that her heart was not beating quite as loudly as yesterday, she noticed an additional symptom. This time, she felt light-headed and noticed that there was a "feeling of unreality". This feeling was really strange! She felt as though she was separated from everything around her. It was like watching herself go through the motions of riding the bus, but that it was not really her doing it. The feeling made her even more fearful that she was losing control of her mind.

As in the first attack, this spell also ended after a few minutes, but it seemed like hours. With trembling hands, she got onto the bus and went to work. Zhou Xiao Mei knew the something was terribly wrong with her, but didn't know what. One attack was bad enough. But this second attack branded an image in her mind of things to come.

Upon arriving at work Zhou Xiao Mei told her friend what happened. Her friend took her aside and in a corner of the office away from other people her friend prayed for her. She prayed that God through Jesus Christ would provide comfort for her. Zhou Xiao Mei thought this was strange to do but almost immediately Zhou Xiao Mei felt a little better. She asked her friend what it was and she said it was the peace of God coming to her. Zhou Xiao Mei was amazed. Her friend told her to calm down and all would be fine. Then at lunch they both talked about what happened.

Zhou Xiao Mei asked her again what happened when she prayed for her that morning. Zhou Xiao Mei’s friend opened the Bible and turned to a place which read, ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ (Philippians 4.6, 7).’ Zhou Xiao Mei was amazed as this was just what seemed to happen to her this morning. If God can do that through this Jesus she wanted to know this Jesus. She asked her friend to tell her right then how to know Jesus Christ.

Her friend took her back to the place they had read before about how bad we all are. Zhou Xiao Mei’ friend read, ‘But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2.4).’ Her friend said that this shows us that even when we sinned or did wrong towards God he still loved us. This shows how Jesus Christ made us alive in him. How did he do this her friend asked Zhou Xiao Mei? God did this by sending his only Son Jesus Christ to the earth to die for our sins.

Her friend showed her another place which said, ‘for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believed would not perish have everlasting life (John 3.16).’ Zhou Xiao Mei asked how she could receive this Jesus Christ as her Savior. Her friend told her that there was nothing to do just believe. She showed her a place which said, ‘it is by grace you have been saved through grace and that of yourself, it is a gift of God so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2.8, 9).’ If anyone could purchase this gift then God could be manipulated. That was important to understand. This eternal life and life now can begin by just trusting in Jesus.

Zhou Xiao Mei’s friend turned to another place in the Bible and read, ‘that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved (Romans 10.9, 10).’ Her friend explained that we must confess that Jesus is the Lord of our life because he died for our sins and that God has raised Jesus from the dead to show his victory over death.

Zhou Xiao Mei wanted to believe this so that she could have a new life now and forevermore. Her friend asked her to pray with her the following prayer, ‘Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive you as my Savior and Lord. Thanks you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.’ After Zhou Xiao Mei prayed this prayer this had a peace and joy in her life she had not had before.

In the coming days and weeks her fears and anxieties slowly lessened to where the attacks she has resolved. The joy she had in Jesus Christ grew as did her faith. You to can have the same joy of life as Zhou Xiao Mei if you will give your life to Jesus Christ as she did.