How often were you separating before it turned into 5 big dreads if maintained daily it shouldn't happened.
It started sectioning around 9 months and started knotting up at about 12 months. The only thing i do is randomly check if hairs are getting stuck together but that rarely happens so i don't separate much. My hair strangely started knotting more when i started wearing it in a loose top knot. I wear it down alot but when working i put it in a topknot to stay away from my face. At first i was so worried about how my hair was doing and i would check it all the top then i slowly stopped worrying and it all started coming together. Now of days i don't really care about it dreading quickly i'm enjoying the messy stage and trying to let the small dreads congo up to bigger ones.
Here is a 10month difference in my hair from sectioning to starting to knot up. My hair was very dread resistant but in the end with patience it started to knot up. here is the first months picture to compare how much it has changed in a year and some months
I stopped shaving/trimming 3years ago. I had the same hopes for a full thick beard. It's still patchy but I grown to accept it as my own. Btw my cheek hairs never grow past 1" my moustache never grows past my lip jawline/side grows about 2" chin is about 3/3.5" but has random hairs over 12".
Beards are all about genetics some are blessed others get less. Best of luck to you. And my advice is to appreciate what you do have not what you want.