Nicola Sturgeon has said the past nine months have been the hardest of her life as she has sought to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Scotland’s First Minister opened up during a speech to delegates at the SNP conference on Monday.
She has previously said she has been “scunnered” by Covid-19, which hit Scotland in March.
With more than 5,000 people recorded as dying with confirmed or suspected coronavirus in Scotland since then, the First Minister said: “I don’t mind saying that these last nine months have been the hardest of my life.
“I’ve had many dark days and sleepless nights, struggling with the horrendous choices the pandemic has forced upon us.
“At times I’ve felt completely overwhelmed – as I’m sure many of you have.
“And I feel a deep sadness for the lives that have been lost.”
She added: “Not a single day passes that I don’t think of families who are grieving.”
While the First Minister said she has “done my best to get these decisions as right as I can”, she admitted there have been mistakes and she takes that responsibility on her own shoulders.
“The responsibility for that is mine and mine alone,” she said.
“I feel it deeply and I always will,” she told delegates.
While admitting mistakes had been made in the approach of the Scottish Government, she said refusing to do anything would have been far worse.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Like Governments everywhere, ours has had to wrestle with almost impossible decisions.
“Every action necessary to reduce the harm of the virus and save lives puts jobs and businesses on the line and causes suffering in so many other ways.
“But without those necessary measures, more lives will be lost.”
She also paid tribute to her advisers and ministers, saying “I can never thank them enough”.
The First Minister also reflected on how life has changed due to Covid-19 in her speech, referring to a picture of her hugging a party member following her address last year.
She said: “When I look at it now – normal human connection in the midst of a crowded event – it’s like viewing a different world.
“A bygone age. That’s the cruelty of Covid.”