In an interview with Holyrood magazine, she spoke about how there were times when she felt "overwhelmed" by the situation.
At some points she wondered whether everyone in the country would know someone who had died from the virus, she said.
The First Minister, who will turn 50 on July 19, said she had found "an even deeper resilience than I ever thought possible" during the crisis.
She said: "I think I've probably been dealing with enough tough stuff recently to not allow myself to dwell too much on me getting older, and actually without all of this going on I may have been a bit more morose about turning 50 and thinking 'Oh my God, I'm getting old'.
"I don't want to sound at all twee here, but this virus and the tragedy of it all has made me think about life and, you know, how much you've got to value life and make the most of it ...
"In a strange sort of way it has absolutely changed my approach and mindset to turning 50 and in a way that makes me much more, if not positive about it, then just less depressed about it, because I think it's more important that we concentrate on the things we have got as opposed to the things we don't."
The First Minister continued: "I wouldn't be human, though, if I hadn't at times over the past few months felt pretty overwhelmed by the magnitude of this, but I've forced myself to keep very focused on it and just get through every decision, every step, every day, every week."
Her own difficulties were "nothing" compared to those of her sister, she said, who works as a medic taking blood samples from patients with coronavirus - doing long shifts in full PPE.
She continued: "It's been grim. There were periods where I genuinely wondered if we would get through this without literally everybody knowing somebody who had died from it and that's what we were trying to avoid.
"Unfortunately, we didn't avoid that for more than 4,000 people and that will always live with me."
The First Minister said she was sure next year's elections to the Scottish Parliament would go ahead as normal life resumed.
She said: "We will see some sense of normality return.
"I think the election will happen next year, in fact I'm pretty sure the election will happen next year, and debates about the country's future will restart too, and we will go back to normal politics, but hopefully thinking a bit more about how we conduct our politics. But I don't think the country is quite there yet ...
"I think I have probably learned already that I've got an even deeper resilience than I might have ever thought possible and I think I will also come out of this with a much lower tolerance for some of the crap of politics."
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