The Starry Night (1889), perhaps Vincent van Gogh's most famous and best work was made shortly before his apparent suicide in 1890.
From 1901 to 1904, Spanish painter Pablo Picasso entered his Blue Period following the suicide of his friend, Carlos Casagemas, which sent Picasso into a severe depression. During this time, Picasso's paintings featured somber imagery and mainly utilized blue & blue-green colors. Thankfully, he started a romantic relationship with Fernande Olivier in 1904, leading to his Rose Period.
Bill Cosby had his entire attitude shift after his son, Ennis, was killed. Cosby has since become a rather outspoken critic of African-American youth who focus on "looking cool" rather than doing well in school or finding a job.
The Onion's resident "political cartoonist" Stan Kelly shows signs of this on a regular basis. While most of his cartoons are takes on issues of the day, he frequently uses his panel to rage about his ungrateful kids, shrewish wife, and generally reveal what a terrible, messed up individual he is. This being The Onion, it's all played for laughs, of course.
Camille Bacon-Smith, in her book Enterprising Women (one of the first ethnographical studies of Fan Fic writers) admitted shock over how many fanfic writers were dealing with serious Real Life issues (divorce, abandonment, family strife, rape recovery, poverty, discrimination) and using their work as an outlet to address it because there were few other outlets available.
Francisco de Goya for a majority of his career as an artist painted bright and colorful portraits, mostly of people enjoying life◊ or of pleasant scenes like the Spanish Royal Family.◊ However, towards the end of his life he began to paint much, much darker◊ scenes. This is primarily blamed on a debilitating illness that deafened him and left him mentally scarred and the war that left his life in ruins.
The infamous painting of Saturn devouring his children in particular takes on a new significance if you know your Classical Mythology and that Goya had six children, only one of whom lived to adulthood.
Played for laughs by stand-up comedian/singer Stephen Lynch when he sings the last verse of the song "Superhero," where at one point he seems to get angrier by the second:
If you could be a superhero
Would you be Justice Guy?
Making sure people get what they deserve
Especially women who lie
Like if a wife left her husband with three kids and no job
To run off to fuckin Hawaii with some doctor named Bob
You could skin them and drain them of blood so they'd die!
Then you would be Justice Guy!
John Cleese's frequent lapses into psychiatry and self-analysis could in part be blamed on the constant pressure on the man to be funny. A certain sort of creator breakdown must result from being instantly recognisable in the street and being constantly prevailed upon to do the silly walk, or the silly voice, or just to be funny - all of which got to the famously serious-minded Cleese.
While not as dramatic as some of the examples around, much of Cleese's humour also stemmed from his background — his typically British middle-class upbringing with rather distant and unexpressive (if not necessarily unloving) parents and his school-life (including suffering a growth spurt that ended up with him being 6ft tall at the age of 13, which naturally made him something of a target). He once remarked that becoming a comedian was a way of at least controlling why people were laughing at him.
A somewhat specific example of this pressure could be seen from his commentary on the Fawlty Towers episode "The Builders". According the Cleese, the first people who saw the episode were some visiting Icelanders. Icelandic culture dictates that, even if you find something funny, you don't laugh at the show until the very end of it. The whole episode, he was faced with silent stoicisim, thinking that they were hating it when they were in fact finding it rather amusing. Nobody told Cleese this for sometime afterwards and to this day, he repeatedly states how much he hates the episode, seemingly for no other reason than this particular incident.
British impressionist Mike Yarwood built a career out of being people other than himself. Renowned in the 1970's for his ability to effortlessly "do" politicians of the age such as Edward Heath, Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan, a career largely based on impersonating Prime Ministers hit the rails in May, 1979, when a woman was elected PM... Yarwood soon became one of the first victims of Thatcher's mass unemployment because of his inability to do drag, possibly making him unique among British comedians. He also discovered that while his takes on Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter were pretty much spot on, he was incapable of doing Ronald Reagan. He soon learnt nobody was interested in yesterday's politicians, and more than that, the "real" Mike Yarwood had been lost somewhere under all the other personas he put on for a living. Like Peter Sellers, he bemoaned his inability to find the "real me". This personal crisis developed into psychosis and alcoholism from which he never fully recovered.
Vaughn Meader suffered a similar fate after November 22, 1963; even though he was a multi-talented comedian and entertainer, no one wanted to hear jokes of any kind from someone whose main claim to fame was a dead-on impersonation of John F. Kennedy. Fortunately, he was able to pull himself together and settle into a second career as a bluegrass musician in his native Maine.
There was also the fact that he was coerced by the Vatican to create in a medium he disliked. He even made a subtle Easter Egg as a Take That! to the papal chamberlain who made him do it (basically, he drew Satan as the unfortunate Chamberlain, depicting him naked with a snake covering his man bits). When the outraged Chamberlain asked the Pope to censor it, the Pope replied that he only had authority in Heaven and Earth.
To top this, Michelangelo portrayed the known writer Pietro Aretino as St. Peter. Aretino had been scoffing Michelangelo publicly for sometime, and Michelangelo portrayed himself as the flayed skin of St. Bartholomy, hanging in the hand of Peter (Aretino). The best way to tell the world, and posterity: "This is how I feel about this".
Margaret Cho spiraled into drug and alcohol addiction after the cancellation of her show All-American Girl, where she was not only forced to lose weight to play the part of herself but also simultaneously criticized for being "too Asian" and "not Asian enough." She wrote about her experiences in the book "I'm The One That I Want", and her stage show version of the book served to re-launch her career. Her experiences with Hollywood and addiction have since become a regular motif in her stand-up.
Manhua author and artist Ai Ou apologised at the end of volume one of Infinity Game because he started writing/drawing chapter 1.5 (D.D.'s backstory) just after he had attended a funeral.
Famed British scientist Michael Faraday began to suffer memory lapses in his later life, which caused him to fall into deep depression.
TV presenter and journalist Vanessa Feltz, famous for TV chat shows and her stint on Chris Evans' groundbreaking The Big Breakfast, entered Celebrity Big Brother only to completely collapse under the pressures of being on camera continually and having nowhere to retreat to. Fellow contestants repeatedly signalled alarm at her erratic behaviour and clear mental distress, but the TV company involved did not pull her out until she'd had a pretty near total breakdown on set. Archive film remains very uncomfortable viewing. Interestingly, Vanessa now works in radio covering Sarah Kennedy's old slot. Which some commentators consider potentially interesting.