He's 27, but he had his first break at 15, and I was sooooo ignorant 12 years ago. We took him to the ER & they were going to admit him, but didn't have a bed - and they didn't take the time to explain to me what was going on. So, I packed him up, brought him home, and got him well myself - it was early in his illness, so once I got him to sleep & eat again, he snapped back without treatment really quick. That lasted for 18 months & I really wish I had let him go that first time.
Maybe earlier medication would have made a big difference for him. Instead, he didn't get on anti-psychotics until his third psychotic break. Because we were adamant about not hospitalizing him, he saw no one after the first one. Started seeing a psychiatrist on an outpatient basis after the 2nd one - but the doctor didn't see it. Then, the doctor saw the third one.
So, I think I can say from experience that delaying treatment doesn't do anyone any good. And, this past year, I've kind of decided I'd rather have a son who hates me than a son who never has a chance to get better. Keeping him out of the hospital was selfish on my part, although I was doing it with the best of intentions at the time.
About 12 to 18 months ago, something changed for him, and changed to the point that avoiding the hospital was no longer an option. However, I was not going to drag him kicking & screaming to the hospital. So, I waited for the right opportunity - and even now, I can honestly tell him I did not put him in the hospital. He asked to go, and once the hospital staff saw him, they felt he needed treatment and kept him. That also means that when he asks me to do something to help him come home earlier, I can say it's not up to me - it's up to the doctor. Although, I always tell him the minute they say he can come home, I'll be there waiting to get him.
This is how it happened each time. I never had advance warning - I just had to seize the moment and be ready to drive him where he needed to go. Other people choose to have a crisis team come evaluate their family member at home, but I've avoided that so that home can remain his safe place.
First time - we had went earlier in the day for him to do an intake session for a new treatment team. They talked about what hospital would be his first choice & told him lots of people like one in our area because they let you go outside & smoke. later that night, he insisted on going there to smoke. So, we went. They evaluated him, had a bed & did the involuntary hold right there. I thought it would kill me.
Second time - again, he wanted to talk to someone right then. we went to crisis, they did the evaluation there, and the police transported him to the hospital.
Third time - he was asking to go to the hospital instead of the dr's office.
Fourth time - he went sort of voluntarily - he had got the police called on him twice in two days for wandering in traffic.
Each time, they did an involuntary hold because he was not mentally competent to either consent to or refuse treatment at that time.
With him, once he's awake about 5 days, there's no hiding his psychosis. He has an urgency to talk about it and physically, he switches back & forth between not being able to stay still to being so out of it that you'd think he was overdosing on drugs.
EDIT: I'd like to add that my son still doesn't have good insight. His delusions are still 100% true to him and he doesn't think the meds do anything for him. However, I have told him that he has a better chance of getting disability and other kinds of help if he accepts treatment, and he does acknowledge that not sleeping can become a problem and that he has anxiety.