Bryan’s life was “a bit of a mess” when he first came to Venture Scotland in 2017. He completed the programme in April 2019. Here is his story…
I was bullied growing up and didn’t have many friends at school, so I put great stock in my academic abilities. When I didn’t manage to complete my studies at university it made me feel like a disappointment and a failure.
Because I was depressed in my fourth year, I didn’t finish the fourth year of my BSC in computer science. This led to a complete loss of confidence. I had a bit of a mental breakdown in 2016, often had suicidal thoughts and was diagnosed with depression.
I struggled for a long time, stuck in a rut. I felt alone, with no-one to talk to. I was then diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder, which made me feel even worse about myself. I was spending all my time alone in my house.
My CPN (community psychiatric nurse) told me about VS and we agreed it was a good idea to help get me out of the house.
On my first day I was nervous but excited about the opportunity to do activities which I’d never done before, as well as hiking, which I already enjoyed.
My favourite was coasteering, jumping off cliffs into the water. It was really nerve-wracking at the start but as I went through the course my confidence kept building. I became less afraid and more confident. Gorge walking was also great fun – all the water-based activities!
I have been able to talk to people about my problems in a safe space without being judged, around people with similar experiences to me, and the excellent staff. This allowed me to improve my communication with others and not be as shy as I was before.
At times it was frustrating because I didn’t have the patience at the start to deal with some people. They had problems I didn’t understand. But as time passed, I got used to them and improved my ability to interact with different people and work with them to achieve goals. It really helped going to the bothies and learning to work in a rota system with communal living.
I’ve met many awesome people on the course and made some friends for life. VS has given me renewed confidence that I could go out and meet other people, that I won’t be alone.
I have learned to be patient and accept that I can’t change others but only myself and my own attitude.
I am more able to understand other points of view now. I have learnt to work in a team, play to each other’s strengths and help one another succeed in different tasks. There were many opportunities to feel proud when we achieved goals, which further bolstered my confidence.
As well as communication, I improved my team-work skills, problem-solving and leadership. The course built me up so I became a much stronger person. I learned how to adapt to different situations.
On our expedition on the Southern Upland way, down in the Borders, we were supposed to go canoeing but the weather didn’t allow for it. We went hiking instead and were the first group to do it without the course leaders or outdoor workers being present. That was really good. The leaders did join us for some of it, but we had to look at the map and figure out exactly where we were going. I improved my cooking skills too!
Venture Scotland has helped me learn how to cope with difficult problems and adapt when things change beyond my control. It has given me a sense of purpose and renewed determination. It made me realise that what’s happened in the past doesn’t have to influence what I do going forward.
I’ve been looking for work since I finished the course and have joined different groups – I’m a member of a board-game group, for example. I enjoy going out and socialising more than I used to.
I now have belief in myself that I can cope with whatever life throws at me.