Orange County Register reporter Valeria Godines is in the midst of a courageous five-part series disclosing her personal battle with bipolar disorder. Brainstorm opens on the day in 2004 when she called police to report that she had killed her three-year-old daughter Gabriela. The series began running in the paper on Sunday.
I run into the bathroom, sit down on the footstool with the secret compartment where my daughter hides her stuffed lamb. I stare at the white tiles and drop my head into my trembling hands.
I hurt my daughter. My little Gabriela.
I shoot into the bedroom, pick up the phone and dial 911.
I absolutely must confess what I've done.
My husband, David, picks up the other line in the kitchen and frantically tries to interrupt the dispatcher.
Four minutes later, the police are at our door.
I know where I need to go.
It is Dec. 5, 2004, and I have lost my mind. My husband tells the police that nothing I have said today makes sense...
What happened to me was like turbulent weather inside my head. Black became three shades darker; red became blood. I could smell flowers in the next room. I felt primal fear, cornered, as if something ominous were after me.
On Dec. 5, everything was put in jeopardy. My freedom. My life. Even my memories.
My brainstorm shocked many people, including myself. I am not fragile. My co-workers would tell you that I'm aggressive on stories. I roll my eyes at people who have "nervous breakdowns."
Or I used to anyway.
Is it possible to just suddenly go crazy? Or was I born this way? I don't know, but when I turn my reporter's eye on myself, it seems as if it was building up all along.
It's done with Register's usual attention to packaging, with videos, photo illustrations and tips for how readers can get help if they need it. Godines, who covers Latino issues, emails former Register colleague Mayrav Saar at FishbowlLA that her sources have yet to remark on the series.