Ferdinand endured a rocky relationship with Bruce during their two years together at the Stadium of Light but was still shocked to be sold to Rangers on transfer deadline day.
The defender had begun the season in Bruce's starting XI and was convinced he had forged a strong centre-back pairing with new signing Wes Brown.
But after being told his contract - which had less than one year to run - would not be renewed, former West Ham star Ferdinand jumped at the chance to return to London.
"The last two years have been full of ups and downs, as everyone knows, with the manager at Sunderland," said Ferdinand, whose relationship with Bruce hit rock bottom a year ago when a furious training-ground argument almost led to him being sold.
"In some ways, I have to thank him, because he's turned me from a boy into a man.
"Coming back to London, it's a new me. I feel different to how I was when I left London four years ago, and I'm here to enjoy my football."
The 26-year-old added: "I feel I haven't had the chance to prove my potential in the last couple of years.
"That's a chapter that's closed in my book now and there's a new chapter open.
"Hopefully, I will get the opportunity to do it and, if I do, then I'm confident in my ability that I'll show people that I'm not just someone with potential, but someone who can carry out their potential."
Ferdinand, who also made headlines for the wrong reasons while at Upton Park, will certainly be given the benefit of the doubt by QPR, where his surname is part of the club's folklore.
The defender's cousin Les is a Rangers legend, something of which Ferdinand was reminded just last week.
"When we trained last Thursday at Loftus Road, I was walking down the tunnel and I looked to the right and saw a picture, an old-school picture, of him playing for QPR and it brought back memories," said Ferdinand, whose brother Rio also spent time at the club.
"When Rio was here as a schoolboy, we used to come to watch Les play here."
The latter's goalscoring exploits earnt him the moniker 'Sir Les', and his cousin, who made his debut in Monday's goalless Barclays Premier League draw against Newcastle, said: "It'd be welcomed to be called 'Sir Anton'. moniker
"I've got a long time to go. I've only played one game and I'm looking forward to my future."
Older brother Rio also played a crucial part in Anton's move as the latter rejected a switch to Ukrainian side Dnipro.
"I'm not someone that goes somewhere just because the money's right," Ferdinand said.
"But then this opportunity came around and it was something that definitely excited me.
"I spoke to Rio about it and I said what the manager had said to me.
"And he said, 'If that was me, I would run to QPR'.
"He's always wanted me to do well - that's the type of relationship we have. He wants me to do better than him."
Ferdinand was one of several high-profile recruits to join npower Championship-winners QPR in a manic final few days of the transfer window.
The new arrivals have wasted no time making their presence felt, with plenty of practical jokes being played in recent weeks.
Striker Jay Bothroyd was the victim of one, which saw his new UGG boots trashed.
"I don't wear gear that bad so I'm all right," said Ferdinand, who insisted he had no idea whether new captain Joey Barton was the culprit.
"Everyone was saying it was Joey. I'm not sure it was Joey who actually cut up his UGG Boots."
He added: "It's a great bunch of lads.
"The banter's good here and that's what makes a good team, having good banter in the dressing room and a good togetherness, and that's certainly what we've got."